I grow a pretty good vegetable garden, if I do say so myself, and like any good gardener I am always happy to share the bounty. I always plant too much anyway, so it only makes sense that I offer what I have to friends and neighbors. Especially zucchini. I always plant too much zucchini.
There is one group, however, with which I do not willingly share even so much as a green tomato. The members of this group are rude, demanding and annoying, and frequently just help themselves to whatever they want, to the fruits of my labor, without so much as a by-your-leave.
I speak, of course, of squirrels. Those pushy little bushy-tailed rats are the bane of the urban gardener’s existence.
Right now, they seem to be exceedingly fond of cucumbers. I planted a small plot this year, just enough for fresh cukes on the table and maybe a few bowls of quick pickles.
Well, the squirrels are putting my cucumber plans asunder. If I leave cukes on the vine to get a little size, eight inches or so, they wind up with big holes gnawed in them. And occasionally the smaller ones, the three or four-inch ones, wind up on Mister Squirrel’s salad plate as well. You’d think they had little bottles of ranch dressing up in the trees.
It’s not that I can’t tolerate a little loss. Any gardener worth his fertilizer knows that you’re going to incur some loss to weather and pests.
But outright theft is another matter entirely.
Last year, during the drought, I was a little more inclined to be charitable toward our fur-bearing neighbors. They were raiding the tomatoes then in a desperate search for water and, being a soft-hearted type, I was willing to go along with it. I didn’t even yell (much) when they all but denuded my one and only vine of Russian Krims, my favorite tomato. I figured I could always go to a farmer’s market to buy some heirlooms but squirrels don’t have that option. No pockets to carry money, you see.
This year, though, when it rains every day for weeks, there is no drought and to my mind, no reason for them to plead thirst when raiding my vegetables. Thieves, that’s all they are – little fur-bearing thieves.
Of course, it could be said that by planting a garden I have created what the lawyers call an attractive nuisance, which is the long way of saying I created my own problem, and the squirrels were unable to resist. I’m willing to consider that up to the point where the Russian Krims are involved. Then it’s nuisance, shmuisance, stay out of my tomatoes. And my cukes.