A Fox in the Blueberries and Other Garden Surprises

    When my wife returned from the garden the other day, somewhat breathless and empty-handed, she announced, “You’ll never believe what’s trapped in the blueberry enclosure.”

      “Don’t tell me that blankety-blank catbird found an opening in the netting again,” I spluttered, preparing to grab a rake to shoo it out.

      “A fox,” she replied.

      “I knew it!” I cried. I had noticed a day or two earlier the berry crop seemed less abundant, and also spotted animal poop on a path that looked as if some critter had been feasting on – well, you get the picture.

     Anyway, by the time I raced out to the garden the fox had escaped, which was good news since I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to extricate it.

    I spent the next hour or so in a vain search for a slit in the netting that the fox could have slipped through, and reflected that its reputation for wiliness is well-deserved.

     At least the fox wasn’t as dumb as the two warblers that somehow squeezed in a couple weeks earlier. I had been in a hurry, about to leave for a trip to Maine, when I made a last-minute check on the garden and discovered the interlopers.

    After muttering a few choice phrases I entered the enclosure, rake in hand, and left the door open.

     The hapless birds squawked and flapped crazily back and forth, flinging themselves repeatedly against the netting, while I chased them around with the rake.

      “Look! There’s the door!” I shouted, and even demonstrated its purpose by marching in and out several times.

    The dumb birds flew right past the opening about 47 times.

     Finally, one got the message and rocketed out, but the other continued to thrash around and get tangled in the netting. I couldn’t go off to Maine and leave it there; when I returned a week later the bushes would be bare and the warbler would be as big as an emu.

    After another 15 minutes of being chased, though, the warbler found a tiny slit – not the door, mind you – and flew off to join its mate. I hope the incident sufficiently terrorized them so they won’t try to break into the blueberries again, but that’s probably asking too much.

    Animals aren’t the other uninvited guests to intrude in the garden – though I’m happy to report the 12-foot-tall deer fencing I toiled to install has been effective.

    Weeds, of course, are the scourge of any gardener, but not all plant invaders are unwelcome – namely, the “volunteer” vegetables that are delightful surprises from the compost heap.

    A couple weeks ago I saw a few mystery sprouts appear in the compost, and dutifully transplanted them to the garden. Soon, dozens more emerged, and I stuck them in the ground as well.

     At first I glumly thought they were nothing but zucchini. I stopped planting zucchini years ago because it’s not one of my favorite vegetables, and because everybody and his sister plants it so by late summer, when they grow to the size of baseball bats, you can’t give them away.

    The old joke is that in small towns the only time people lock their car doors is during the zucchini harvest.

     Anyway, my mystery plants continued to flourish, sending out long vines and large yellow flowers.

     Then, small green growths appeared at the base of the flowers, and I thought to myself – aha, watermelons!

     But no, a couple days later I could see more clearly what was growing: acorn squash!

     This is great news, since I love acorn squash, especially when baked with my homemade maple syrup. And unlike zucchini or tomatoes, they store well.

  I now have dozens growing, and I didn’t even have to buy the seeds – they came from the remnants of one single squash buried last year in my compost heap.

     If only the rest of gardening were that simple.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

Surf’s Up! Hanging Ten In A Kayak

All right, technically my buddy Spyros "Spy" Barres and I weren’t hanging 10 toes off the end off boards while riding waves at Westerly’s Fenway Beach on Thursday, but we were surfing.

I'm Always Chasing Rainbows

All of us who have ventured atop mountains, out to sea, or simply into a nearby park have occasionally faced Mother Nature’s wrath – a sudden thunderstorm, pounding blizzard, gale-force winds, locusts …

Loading Your Backpack: Less Is (Usually) More

Some years ago, preparing to hike the Hundred Mile Wilderness – the final stretch of the fabled Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, I stuffed my backpack with what I initially considered to be the absolute bare minimum for a week in...

Sun, Sun, Sun Here It Comes (Enough Already!)

When I was a kid, the Fourth of July was one of the year’s high holy days, right up there with Halloween and the last day of school, because that was when my parents took my sister and me to the beach for the annual fireworks...

How To Build An Adirondack Chair Out Of Skis In 14,387 Easy Steps

Many people I know share my passion for outdoor recreation but I also have a little secret: Between rounds of kayaking, hiking, gardening, wood-splitting and other activities I also savor the simple act of lounging quietly on a sunny day in a...

A Comedy – And Nearly A Tragedy – Of Errors On Maine's Saddleback Mountain: In The Age Of Cellphones, A Failure To Communicate

A refreshing breeze cooled me despite a blazing late-afternoon sun as I scrambled up the final rocky slope to the 4,121-foot summit of Maine’s Saddleback Mountain earlier this week, but I paused for only a moment to gaze at the glorious,...

Gardening Is Simple! Just Stick Stuff In The Ground And Voila! A Cornucopia Of Fresh Veggies! (Right)

Anyone who has ever attempted to grow vegetables soon realizes it is a true labor of love, with particular emphasis on the labor.

An Explorer’s Guide To The Great Indoors: Hotels Designed For ‘Adventurers’

During decades of traipsing through the wilderness I’ve slept, or attempted to sleep, in every conceivable indoor and outdoor quarters: in freshly dug snow caves; alongside bug-infested swamps; during thunderstorms with no tent; in the...

Alligators, Gorillas, Bears, Snakes, Even Cows: Danger Lurks Where You Least Expect It

The awful story this week about a 2-year-old boy who witnesses said was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon near a Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando, Florida and later found dead serves as a reminder that danger lurks even in "The...

This Bud’s For You: The Unofficial King Of Beer Litter

While kayaking the other morning I spotted a small, dark object poking above the lake surface 100 yards or so ahead, and I was pretty sure it was the head of a turtle until I drew closer and realized the sad truth: just another beer...

Chaotic Fun At The Essex River Race

Shortly before the start of the late-great Rose Arts Road Race several years ago, a 10.47-mile running competition over the hills of Norwich considered one of New England’s toughest courses, my friend Bob and I decided to jog a couple miles...