Last year I had a huge garden. I started my seedlings inside and by the time I transferred them to my garden plots, they were healthy little plants. I had yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beets, carrots, green beans and sweet peas. I even started a small strawberry patch on the side of my house. Unfortunately, due to a freak hail storm early in the summer of 2013, my plants were badly damaged and they spent a lot of time and energy regrowing broken and ripped leaves instead of producing a lot of food. In the fall, when I should have been harvesting what little my garden did produce, we experienced the 100 year flood here in Boulder. The four days of non-stop torrential rain effectively rotted what I had spent all summer tending after the damage from the hail. But at least, during the height of the summer, we were able to enjoy green beans, peas, and some tomatoes. And it looked good. For some reason that mattered to me. I took pride in the lush, leafy greenness that was exploding and overflowing over my little fence. This year my garden suffered at the hands of another force of nature, even before I could transfer my precious sproutlings to the ground. It was not the destructiveness of a hail storm or too much rain. It was not searing temperatures and drought-like conditions, nor vegetation flattening gale force winds, but the complete and utter annihilation by a menace so fierce, so willful and so naughty, that even time-outs and scoldings couldn’t stop him. He goes by the name of Cooper and he can take corners on his scooter like Dale Earnheardt Jr. rounding the final bend of the Indy 500. And Cooper, much like the fans of car racing, really enjoys the crashes more than the smooth turns around the track. My garden starts, set out on the patio, so that the early spring sun might coax the green buds from the awaking seeds, were a very gratuitous victim. He seemed to love the way the soil would jump out of the little pots and spread out into a black dust on the concrete. Then he’d drive over and over again through the black soil, admiring the patterns his tracks made. I’d run screeching from the house, trying to salvage the few survivors that I could. Cooper would rest his hands on his handlebars and survey the scene with an amused grin on his little face and say “Thowwy Mommy, it wath an athident.” Who can stay mad at a chubby three year old with a charming lisp?
By the time my second round of starts of had been destroyed, partly by Cooper and partly by the cats who loved to chew the heads of the new plants off, I gave up. I decided to just throw my leftover seeds straight into the garden and consider myself lucky if anything came up. My garden this summer, due to it’s late start and less ambitious tending, looks like something that was planted in a vacant lot in the middle of the city and then left to live or die on it’s own. My peas are wimpy, my green beans are patchy, my swiss chard is filled with holes and my cucumber plant is runty. If this garden was my sole source of food, I could very well starve to death. I’m hoping that next summer Cooper will have a better understanding of gardening and will become interested in tending it rather than trampling it. Do you have a garden this year and if so, do your little ones like to help you with it? Or, like me, do you have to deal with two-legged garden pests?