Last weekend Handsome Chef Boyfriend and I had our first springtime work session in the “secret” terraced gardens on the property I call home at the moment. During a cool, misty afternoon we raked and shoveled and pulled weeds and prepared a bed in anticipation of putting my started-from-seed-inside veggies in the ground. I don’t grow things: I kill them. This is a big moment for me.
While he was working HCB noted the presence of a pretty well- engineered system of tunnels in the middle terrace, and judging from the size of what appears its main entrance we concluded the critter who lives there must be big. A couple of days later I took my morning coffee up to the garden and saw that the holes–which HCB had carefully filled–were freshly re-excavated. After all our clearing I could also see that these underground digs (get it? digs? underground?) probably set in motion the partial collapse of the massive stone retaining wall in the middle terrace (we are working around it for now). Its structure is in fact so fragile that I am reluctant even to walk in front of it, as I fear the rest could go any time. You would not want to be standing there with coffee in hand should this come to pass.
Later that same day I observed a healthy looking groundhog lumber past my back door, down the stone steps, through a pleasing, curved section of lawn leading to the garden, and–you guessed it–right into the largest hole we found. The woman who owns this delicious property–a colleague of mine–quipped, If you’ve got a groundhog, you’re not growing vegetables.
I did not proceed as planned with my vegetable garden early last week. I decided instead to contemplate the problem. This weekend I headed to HCB’s house, and we concluded the best course of action is a live trap.
When I returned home earlier today, I noted a couple of exciting developments. First, I have beans! They did not wait for me, friends. They made an executive decision to grown in my absence, without my permission. I could not be more thrilled. I do not care whether they seem puny, or that there are not many of them. In my mind, this is gardening success. I have about enough of them on my plants for a single serving. I grew my own food. Badabing.
And second, I have almost-tomatoes! Yep! They sprouted while I was gone. (And also some more beans, and also some more chard–just in case.)
So now I am more resolute than ever that this garden will be. We will bait the trap next Friday night, and if we succeed in catching a groundhog, will transport it down the hill, across the river, and release it into a field (where, my colleague noted, I will probably piss off somebody else). Don’t care. Not sharing my veggies (key word there, my), with a toothy, overgrown rodent who can find its own dang beans.
Have not yet concluded how to proceed if there is, say, an entire family living in my garden….
Will keep ya posted. Oh, and by the way: my squash plants are thriving. And a very kind Vermont friend pointed out that the stuff I thought was chard is in fact rhubarb! Have no idea how to prepare it, but I do know how to love it, and have access to a chef….