Monday, July 3, 2017

Not Dead Yet

July 2, 2017: Blossoms on my pepper plants started opening yesterday!

Tomorrow it will be four weeks since I planted the first part of my garden: the tomatoes, the cucumbers, half the strawberry plants, and the pole beans. It's been three and a half weeks since I planted the pepper plants and the other half of the strawberries. Not only are they still alive, but they are growing and blossoming!

The strawberries have been blooming like crazy since I planted them.

In all honesty, I'm a little surprised when I go out everyday to water the garden. I always half-expect to find every plant wilted or dead, but instead they seem to be thriving. Well, except for the one of my twelve strawberry plants that just seemed to wither away into nothingness. And, as beautiful as the strawberry plants have been--putting out big leaves, pretty white flowers, and tiny green berries--I don't really expect to see a harvest this year. As soon as the berries start to blush, they mysteriously disappear.

Our scarecrow owl, whose head spins slowly in the breeze or rain, and
the young bean plants that survived the rabbits (two or three of them did not).

I bought a big owl statue to, hopefully, scare away the berry-eating birds (and maybe the bunnies?), but apparently they don't take him too seriously. I'm already plotting on how to handle next year's crop differently. The battle for the strawberries will rage!

Blossoms have been covering my tomato plants for the past week or more.

Seeing all the cute little blooms on my tomato, strawberry, and pepper plants has been satisfying and gives me hope for at least a small harvest starting in August. However, I didn't expect to start seeing actual "fruits" (except for the berries, of course) for a while yet. So imagine my surprise when I was watering last night and saw an adorable little green tomato dangling from a branch!

The first little green tomato I spied yesterday!

After the watering was done, I hurried into my house for my camera to capture the moment. Then, the closer I got to the plants for their moment in the spotlight, the more little tomatoes I discovered! I did it! Okay, I admit there's still plenty of time for things to go wrong before the harvest begins, so I'm not exactly a farmer yet, but I'm on my way!

And then I found more!

And my battle with the neighborhood rabbits is just heating up. After an initial attack against my pepper plants, the bunnies haven't bothered them again. And the rabbits never have gone after the tomatoes or strawberries (I've wondered if it's because they don't like the plastic devices I have around each of those plants), so those plants are all progressing well.

Unfortunately, though, they really, really like my little bean plants and cucumber plants. Both were thriving and filling out nicely with fat green leaves when the bunnies launched a night attack, chewing several of the plants down to nubs. It's been all-out war since then. Dylan and Jake helped me cover the plants with netting, which seemed to work well for several days. And, so far, the bean plants that survived the early attacks are still untouched and doing well.

Little tomatoes everywhere!

However, night before last, the rabbits somehow got through my defenses and ate up my cucumber leaves again. Luckily, the plants aren't dead and they seem to regenerate new leaves at an incredibly quick rate, but that won't continue to be the case if I can't find a way to keep these critters off them!

My poor, mangled cucumber plants. Will they make it?

When  I got home at 6:00 from dropping Mark at work this morning, there was a small rabbit hopping around my front yard, nibbling here and there (the garden is in back). I thought to myself, "Of all the nerve...!" and I marched through the gate and toward the rabbit. I hoped to scare the heck out of him, but he didn't seem too worried. He just kept slightly out of my reach.

Then the wildest thing happened. I remember my second husband telling me years ago, while we stood in this very garden, that the rabbits could go right through our chain link fence. Not under it, but through it. I gave him a doubtful look (expressing doubt aloud was not allowed, as that apparently meant I was disrespecting him, which always led to more ugliness), and I silently figured it was merely an optical illusion or an exaggeration.

By golly, if he wasn't telling the truth. It didn't even happen so fast that I distrusted my eyes. This little rabbit did not wiggle under the fence. He didn't even slow down to squeeze through one of those tiny diamond-shaped spaces. He strolled right through the fence without breaking stride, as if it weren't there. And then he looked back at me from the other side, through the wire.

That wascally wabbit paused just on the other side of the fence.

I was dumbstruck, unable to comprehend what I'd just witnessed. It was like seeing the greatest David Copperfield magic stunt ever staged. I even took a few steps forward to be sure the rabbit really was on the other side of the fence, that it wasn't simply an illusion. How do you fight an enemy with such incredible superpowers?

Yesterday I went online to my favorite garden supplier,, and ordered an arsenal to launch against my cuddly bunny enemies. There will be a three-pronged attack, and it won't be pretty. It's on now, Mr. Rabbit. It's on.

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