Anyone who is easily offended by off-color language may want to skip today's post. The topic invites, even demands, profanity. I am talking, of course, about organic gardening.
I have been gardening, and gardening organically, for the better part of two decades. Yes, I am one of those people who feels most alive when my hands are plunged wrist-deep in compost-enriched soil.
Nice, right? But before you imagine me working my way into a Zen-like state of oneness with all things, let me set the record straight. I see a tomato hornworm burrowing into one of my Brandywines, and I turn into Tony Soprano. The hornworm gets smashed under my shoe. Aphids get blasted to hell with the hose. Japanese beetles get drowned in a bucket of water. (Although it is perhaps the same instincts that prompt me to garden organically that also make me wonder whether my decision to target Japanese beetles, in particular, is just a little bit racist.)
The point is that conventional gardeners get to do their dirty work rather antiseptically, spraying insecticides at a decorous remove. We organic gardeners have to kill with our bare hands. We are brutal. Nature is not necessarily our friend. Earthworms – yes, they are friends, even though they are slimy and I don’t particularly like to touch them. (Steve, on the other hand, loves nothing more than plunging his hands into a squirming pile of worms. More on that another week.) Ladybugs are friends. Spiders: friends. Birds: frenemies. Squirrels: not friends. Bunnies: mortal foes.
Last August, in a blinding flash of recognition of the obvious, I realized that the reason my parsley, beans and beets were nothing more than stubby nubbins--despite my lavish use of compost and general helicopter plant parenting--was that deceptively cute bunny who’d been hopping around my little urban garden all summer, treating it as his own personal mini-fridge. So we launched, somewhat belatedly, into operation “Fuck You, You Fucking Bunny,” erecting clumsy fences around the garden bed with a mismatched bunch of sticks and bird netting.
It was unsightly, but it worked. They don’t call them dumb bunnies for nothing.
This year, Operation FYYFB has gone a step further. My friend Mark, who likes to fix things, build things and blow things up, came up with a much more elegant solution: he installed an electric wire around the garden, at bunny-height, using dog fencing technology. It doesn’t hurt the bunnies, it just pisses them off. Which is fair, I believe, because the bunnies piss me off when they eat my parsley. I only had to leave it on for a few days to get those bunnies so pissed that they stormed off in a huff and haven’t been back since.
This year, the parsley is mine, all mine. Fuck you, bunnies!
I turned it on again when I noticed the chipmunks eating my strawberries. Fuck you, chipmunks!
Next project: the blueberries. In years past, the birds have eaten every last blessed berry. This year, we erected a big, ugly structure and covered it with bird netting, keeping the little feathered bastards off of the fruit.
Fuck you, birds!
And so it goes that the more I garden, the more hostile and ruthless I become. Fuck with my plants and I will crush you, blast you, fry you, grind you under my heel.
But the berries are delicious. Kumbaya.