Friday, June 3, 2011

The UN-Romantic Side of Gardening

There could be so many great subtitles for this post: "Never Argue with Mark Bittman", "The Heebie-Jeebies", "How Not to Kill Squirrels in Your Home Garden", "Delta Burke Was Right", and on and on....  The short version of this post is, yesterday I had sort of a series of unfortunate disgusting events in the garden. 

1. The first was pretty mild: R found a bug on my community garden potatoes that I thought was a beetle, but instead of cracking when I squished it, it kind of deflated and a bunch of yucky juice came out.  I'm not a bug person, but home gardeners have to get used to killing them, so I shuddered and moved on.  (Maybe it was one of the immature forms of stink bug?) 

2. Later I went out to harvest some broccoli from my home garden and found that the brassicas were being absolutely overrun by cabbage worms - I think at least two different kinds!  So I spent about half an hour picking them off and dropping them into a dish of soapy water, then harvested the two small heads of broccoli I had come out to get and proceeded to spend another half an hour picking more worms out of them.  (Here's where you don't argue with Mark Bittman: in his excellent book How to Cook Everything, he recommends parboiling broccoli before using it in stir-fries.  An unmentioned perk of using this method is that if there happens to be still another cabbage worm stubbornly hiding in your broccoli, it will give up and let go when parboiled.) 

3. While dinner was cooking, I decided to go out back and water my container potatoes and garlic from a large tub of water I half-filled earlier in the week.  As I approached the tub (maybe it holds about 30 gallons?) carrying a small pot for scooping the water out, I saw what looked like an enormous scrub brush resting inside of it.  Instantly knowing that this was NOT RIGHT, I stopped and made a wary circle around the tub, not wanting to get too close, but wanting to verify that whatever animal belonged to that tail was definitely dead.  It turned out to be a definitely dead squirrel, fortunately not too long dead from what I could tell.  I guess he must have fallen in and been unable to climb out?  I was a little shocked because I've used this bucket for two years now and while I worried about R falling in, I never dreamed it would be a death trap for wildlife.  I shuddered some more and went back inside the house, completely put off of watering anything, even from the hose.  Later I said to N, "Umm, there is sort of a situation out in the back yard that I'd like you to take care of."  My mom is fond of quoting Delta Burke's character from Designing Women, "...the man should have to kill the bugs!" and I have discovered that while I can kill (err, most of) the bugs, N is totally in charge of animal corpse removal around our house.  (Actually, it's kind of astonishing how often this has to be done on our little .1 acre property.  He has removed squirrels, raccoons, birds, rabbits, rats, mice and voles in the 4.5 years that we've lived here.  Honestly, I know the cats probably import animal corpses for us, but can this be normal?) 

4. Finally, as N was coming back in from removing the squirrel, while I was trying really hard not to think about what he'd just done, I glanced over and saw out of the corner of my eye a cabbage worm sneaking out of our kitchen trash can.  I decided that I'd had enough for one day and he could go crawl off in a corner and die of starvation.

So there you have it.  Gardening is everything I said it was a couple posts ago (The Romantic Side of Gardening), plus occasionally just disgusting.

ps - if you're wondering, N dumps our animal corpses in the wooded area at the end of the street.  the city is pretty unclear about this and i wouldn't want to spring a week-old dead squirrel on our truly exemplary trash collectors.

pps - yes, i've lost my camera cord again, hence no pictures on the blog for a while.  sigh.

ppps - no!  there's no baby yet!


  1. Awesome post! Not so awesome for you, but has the makings of a thriller movie!!

  2. How much do you think the cats are paying to import vermin? Maybe that's where all of their allowance is going. :(