Larry’s green thumb has impressed me this year. Until now, I never knew he had one. Actually, there was that one year that we grew so many white acre peas that we didn’t know what to do with such bounty, but that was just one year. This year he’s grown an incredible and varied garden. From blueberries to white acre peas, from sunflowers to azaleas, from corn to pole beans, he just keeps on adding plants and expanding the garden.
“We could use a few more tomatoes,” he tells me. “Do you think we have enough peppers? What about squash? We want to freeze some.”
Our yellow summer squash is almost ready to eat. I can hardly wait. Then we have a fine crop of a green and white striped squash that Larry’s brother Frankie gave us. I don’t know if it’s ready or not because I’ve never seen anything like it before. Even Google can’t identify it for me. It looks a bit like a light bulb, but it’s hale and hearty—I guess. I have no idea how to tell when it’s ripe or how to cook it. It’s our garden mystery.
We recently added pumpkins to the patch. I can only imagine what our grandsons thought when we told them we are growing their jack-o-lantern. They are eager to come see the garden they helped plant. We need to get those Atlanta children down here in South Georgia for a while so we can teach them the finer points of planting and harvesting. Hopefully, they’ll be here in a week or two.
Margaret Atwood, one of my favorite authors, says that gardening is not a rational act. It’s a gamble at best. Larry has done everything possible for this garden. He hoes every day, fertilizes, waters, and checks every plant several times a day. He has raked and mulched, read books and watched gardening shows, and the garden was beautiful. Notice that shift in verbs there—was. Past tense!
Last Sunday morning, he came in livid from his first visit to the garden. The scowl on his face told me all was not well.
“Did you see the garden this morning?” he asked.
“No, I’ve been too busy to go out there. Why?”
“The $@**$#%^ deer have eaten about half of it,” he said, steam coming from his ears. “They got about half the peas, one squash plant, and the tops of the corn. Looks like I did all that work to feed the deer.”
That afternoon we purchased some rather expensive deer deterrent, one spray bottle and one jar of granules. Larry spread it liberally about and I prayed. I don’t know if the products worked, but something did for a couple of days. Then the deer returned for more peas. They like white acres as much as we do.
We racked our brains. We discussed electric fences, taking turns standing guard, and tethering Bentley out there (yes, sure!). I had to think fast. The idea of marching the parameters of the garden with a bb gun on my shoulder at 3 a.m. didn’t appeal to me one whit.
“Hey, Larry, do you think a radio might scare them away?” I asked. “We can find a talk show with people talking all night and turn it really loud.”
“It just might work,” he replied. “It’s worth a try anyway.”
We dug out an old radio and he headed out back with it. About 15 minutes later, he came back laughing.
“Tonight, the deer will be too busy dancing to eat the garden,” he said.
I stepped out on the back porch and heard loud raucous music blaring, sending nearly visible waves over the remaining healthy plants. Fortunately, our nearest neighbors live across a field from us and won’t be bothered by our deer music. I hope not, anyway.
It seems to be working. We haven’t found any more deer tracks. No more plants have been eaten. The deer are dancing or running away—I’m not sure which, but I hope it’s permanent. They’re about to give Larry a stroke.
Last night when Stuart came in, he said to Larry, “Grandpa, I saw three rabbits out eating in the side garden.”
Well, shucks! I wonder what kind of music rabbits like.