Monday, July 9, 2012

Deb Burns: Havoc in the Pea Patch

There must be a word for the risky practice of bragging in a blog, and if there isn’t, my suggestion is blagging. I should know: I did it, and I’m paying the price.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought the biggest problem in my 12-ring circus of a garden was that I had neglected to support the high-wire tightrope walkers, my Sugar Snap peas. Instead, the plants had to venture out horizontally, clambering up whatever weed happened to be handy. Eventually, I snapped to attention, strung up a couple of trellises, helpfully curled tendrils around twine, and then blagged in Inside Storey about “my” plants’ bushy, blossoming beauty.

Healthy, bushy pea plants before the wreckage.

Those were my salad days, when I actually thought the plants were mine. Pride blaggeth before a fall. The morning after the post went live, I checked the pea patch and realized that something was not right. Stalks were crooked. Leaves had wilted. And where were the abundant white blooms and adorable baby podlets?

At first I was in denial, but the next day the wreckage was obvious: only a few plants were still vertical, and they hung by their tendrils from the trellis like stranded mountain climbers instead of vaulting up it. Then I surprised a bunny in the restaurant, er, garden, who ran around in Peter Rabbitish panic until it found a gap in the fence and fled.

Wilted and crooked — the pea patch after the bunny buffet.

At work I bewailed my fate. Was there a vegetable branch of FEMA? My colleague Carleen left on my desk the best sympathy gift — a berry basket stuffed to the brim with peas.

Probably because of our mild New England winter, this is becoming the Summer of the Varmints, and it's only been summer for 2 weeks. Here’s the evidence:
  • Rabbits, in my case
  • Kristy’s skunk, which she posted about last week
  • A rogue surgeon amputated entire limbs from my dad’s tomatoes — a first for my father after 85 years of gardening.
  • Other gardeners curse at groundhogs that arrive not as roaming singles but as vacationing tour groups.
  • Ilona had a bear visitation the other night.
  • Mars spied a rat atop his chicken coop.
Now there are no peas left in my patch. Rabbits took them lock, stalk, and blossom. The trellis is bare. But life must go on in this miniature universe. Yesterday I turned the remnants under — more like a burial than a tilling — and on top of that lovely leguminous green manure, I installed four Black Hungarian pepper plants I hadn't had room for before. Maybe I’ll even plant more Sugar Snaps in August.

Rabbits don’t favor pepper plants’ sizzling seeds, I’m certain. I’ve closed the gap in the fence. I have mothballs and bloodmeal at the ready for sprinkling here and there. But most important, I will be extremely vigilant not to blag.

— Deb Burns, Acquiring Editor, Storey Publishing

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