Gardening is one of those wonderful pastimes that brings joy and a sense of relaxation to the avid gardener. It’s been said that weeding can be cathartic, while the joy of growing something from seed or seedlings offers us the wonder of new life and the satisfaction of growing one’s own food.
Gardening can also be frustrating when local wildlife comes to call. Take, for example, my neighbor’s kale plants. He planted multiple seeds in front of his home, only to find that some of the plants had been chewed down to the stalks. A family of bunnies who live beneath his porch had been steadily enjoying the fruits of his labor as a hearty breakfast, just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. He was able to get a harvest after all, but the rabbits had certainly made a dent in his efforts.
I can heartily attest to wildlife’s presence in my garden. At the beginning of the season, I planted kale plants on the side of my home. I found every stalk chewed down to a small green nub that hovered just above the dirt line. I like bunnies, so I didn’t mind that much. After all, wildlife must eat, too. The phrase, “Hold my beer” comes to mind as I relate the next story to you.
As I was planting starter pepper plants from seeds that I grew in my greenhouse window, I glanced over at some of the starters that Hubby had purchased and planted from Home Depot. A tomato plant lay forlornly on its side, its blades draped helplessly over the side of the flowerpot. Beside the now uprooted plant was a hole the size of a silver dollar, with a peanut stuffed deep within the hole. I’m sure you can guess what animal dug up my little tomato starters. As an aside, those plants are now as high as a Hicksville Ranch gutter. No harm, no foul in this case.
Each year, our blackberry and raspberry bushes yield a surprising amount of fruit. We are usually on vacation when the bulk of the harvest arrives. We return to purple stains on the house, driveway and patio stones, thanks to the birds who enjoy a ripe little fruit. We’re still able to get a good harvest, but sometimes we find half-eaten berries on the branches that are a little less appetizing.
This year, Hubby decided to use the leaf catching net from our pool to cover the blackberry bushes to protect them from the birds’ ravaging. We had noticed a particularly bold robin, who flew directly past our heads and landed in the bush. He eagerly chowed down on some unripe berries while he tossed small branches aside. We found so many branches with unripe fruit that we feared no harvest. That’s when Hubby broke out the net.
That afternoon, the robin sat in our neighbor’s beech tree and hollered a loud squawk for all that he was worth for the good part of an hour. Finally, he swooped down from his branch and grabbed the netting with his feet. He attempted to fly up in order to move the net. You must give him credit, that took smarts. Hubby wasn’t impressed and tied the netting tighter to prevent the robin from unraveling his handiwork.
This morning, I went outside with Luna for her morning trip around the yard. She began to bark shrilly at the blackberry bush. I heard the rustling of wings and ran to the netting. Just as I arrived, the robin shot out as though shot from a cannon with a very large blackberry nestled neatly in his beak. He flew to the beech tree and squawked some more. It’s Hubby’s intention to purchase a plastic owl from Home Depot to deter that bold bird.
After relating this story to another friend from Hicksville, he mentioned that a robin had taken residence in his yard and was thoroughly enjoying the peppers in his garden. He was almost at his wit’s end, especially since his tomatoes were lovely and green and hung heavy on the vine. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the robin had made fine work of my cherry tomatoes, which I have found strewn across the driveway. I continue to mutter W. Clement Stone’s quote, “If you’re really thankful, what do you do? You share.” I only hope the robin leaves me enough of a harvest to make a decent salad.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.