Mister McGregor’s Oreland Garden (Roots, Shoots and...oh, shoot!)
There are clichés in literature, and in life, some of which are more accurate than others. But many are 100% spot on, including the plot of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Remember Farmer McGregor, who was constantly outsmarted by Peter? Bugs Bunny pulled similar hijinks with Elmer Fudd in a far less cultured medium, the Warner Bros. Cartoon.
This past Spring, Farmer Steve made a valiant attempt to plant a vegetable garden, which included carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, and eggplant. How the chef in me fantasized about plucking a perfectly ripe veggie from our bounteous harvest, to prepare for that night’s supper!
Realizing that all good things take time, I didn’t worry when many weeks passed with little action, but finally we spied a few feathery green shoots that unmistakably belonged to carrot, poking up out of the dirt. Victory was ours!!
Around that same time, we began noticing evidence of a nest of baby bunnies (the main evidence was seeing the tiny bunnies themselves). How precious! Mom Rabbit was a good sized gal, always hopping nearby of course, watching over her furry darlings. The perfect addition to our bucolic scene! thought I.
But then the inevitable happened. Not content to just romp around looking fluffy, Mom R. decided to turn our wee little garden into an all-you-can-eat salad bar. The carrots were the first victims (of course, right?) but our other plantings didn’t fare much better. It wasn’t until the devastation was complete, that we began to hear other gardeners’ tricks of the trade ”Oh,dear! You should have planted marigolds there too. Bunnies hate them and they would’ve kept the bunns away from your carrots!” Appreciate the tips, folks, especially now that it‘s far too late to salvage anything!
We can’t lay the blame entirely on the little Cottontail family. We believe that there were also moles (voles? Is there a difference?) involved in devouring food items they did not pay for, and did nothing to nurture. We also began to suspect the wide variety of birds that were suddenly camped out in our back yard. Squirrels, too, and chipmunks. Green bean thieves and villainous squash eaters, the lot of them!
It was with some relief when Fall arrived and we gave up all pretense of vegetable growing. We focused instead on our pots of herbs, which did very well for a while, until they didn’t. The basil in particular began sporting round brown spots (never a good sign. I have freckles, so I know). The mint went wild, but then the tarragon did too. They became hopelessly entangled, and it was a vegetarian bloodbath with no survivors.
Steve has far more patience than I, plus a philosophical attitude and a willingness to learn (none of which I possess). But even my hubby is admitting defeat, and finally planted hyacinth and daffodil bulbs for next spring instead. Those are inedible, so I have no interest in their success or failure.
“What’s up, Doc?” We ask, ruefully. Not our vegetables, apparently.