Tuesday, August 2, 2011


So, apparently, there is a groundhog running rampant around our neighbourhood. According to Larry the Potential Serial Killer, it has done major damage to his garden and he is not a happy camper.

Larry the Potential Serial Killer is precisely one of those people who actually says, “I am not a Happy Camper” (and it sounds capitalized when he says it, too). He actually sounds rather a lot like Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons” and even salutes me with a “Howdy, stranger” when he seems me walking with the pups. He’s very much a “gee-whizz”er meaning that he says things like “gee whiz- that groundhog surely is a nasty critter!”

I feel bad for Larry. He’s rather upset. The mean groundhog ate all his ‘sweet pertaters” and beans. He had apparently planted his sweet pertaters in a barrow and the groundhog had devoured them. I’m not quite sure why they were in a barrow but well, I’m not excited Captain MonkeyPants of the Greenthumb. I like to garden but my knowledge of gardening involves the following:

1) You dig a bit of ground
2) You plant a seed/bulb
3) You water it.
4) You hope it grows
5) You see weeds growing and occasionally pull them up
6) When the weeds grow out of control due to my severe case of Weed Pulling Avoidation, I half-heartedly dig over the soil where I can, slap a bit of weed control fabric over the top and cover it with pretty mulch.
7) If this is not possible because I have already planted stuff that’s overrun by weeds, I try to daintily spray weed killer on the weeds, avoiding the real plants. This inevitably doesn’t work as I usually accidentally end up killing my plants. Thus, I don’t use this method much.
8) Eventually giving up, hoping I can still pick my tomatoes and vowing to be a better weeder next year.

So, you see, while I like gardening, I’m not a die-hard gardener. I also don’t grow sweet potatoes or, even, sweet pertaters because while I enjoy the occasional yam, it’s not a huge part of my diet and I’d never really have too much use for them. Tomatoes, peppers, basil and corn, on the other hand…those I grow. You don’t really grow any of those in a barrow. I try to grow them in pots. This works well for the basil. The tomatoes start out well but end up being too big for the pot and transplanting them never works well for me.

Still, it doesn’t stop me from feeling bad for Larry. Last year, I had half my ‘crop’ devoured by a bunny including all my swiss chard, my corn and my sunflowers. It made me very unhappy. This year, thanks to the fearsome powers of Sookie and Rory, the bunny has been scarce. The one time it did appear, it was chased around frantically until the poor thing almost collapsed with exhaustion before making it out of a tiny hole in the fence. Having dogs is a good thing.

I’m hoping having the dogs means the groundhog won’t visit my garden. I do believe Larry. I’ve seen a couple of groundhogs capering around on this grassy area at the end of my neighbourhood. They’re actually quite cute. Of course, if they were eating my veggies, I probably wouldn’t feel that way. However, having seen the movie, “Groundhog Day,” one too many times, I always have the desire to yell “Don’t drive angry, Phil!” at the groundhogs. Not that I think they’d get my slightly obscure pop culture reference. Nor would they get it if they said, “I’m Ned! Ned Ryerson” or “Watch out for that last step, it’s a doozy!”

Ok, fine, I probably have seen that movie one too many times but I find the comedy of Bill Murray rather hilarious. I much preferred his “Ghostbusters”/”What about Bob”/”Groundhog Day”/”Man Who Knew Too Little” days to his deeper more artsy “Royal Tennenbaum” or “Life Aquatic” days. I miss Bill Murray although “Zombieland” made me love him again.

Sorry. I digress. I do that a lot, don’t I?

Back to the groundhog. I think I’ve actually seen the evil eater of sweet pertaters. On Saturday, I got up early and took the girls for a walk before it got too hot. There was a large furry creature ambling around across the road along with two squirrels. At first I thought it was a raccoon. It could have been a raccoon, I suppose but now I prefer to think that it was the groundhog and I saw it en route to doing more mischief.

Larry gave me the warning about the groundhog last night as I walked the girls. He was fresh off the discovery that his veggies had been devoured and he was hopping mad. The reason I know he was hopping mad was that, well, he said “I’m hopping mad!”

I do appreciate the warning because I do want to keep my precious veggies safe. I’ve worked hard to get them to wear they’re almost ready to pick and if I find a groundhog in my garden…well….I’d probably be hopping mad too. I suppose I could set Sookie and Rory on it but while they think they’re enormous tough dogs, they’re a bit smaller than a groundhog and those things have sharp teeth. Maybe they could tag team it or something.

Either way, I will be watching out for the nasty thing. The last thing I want is to come home and find out that all of my heirloom tomatoes are gone. I don’t even know if groundhogs like tomatoes but I admit, Larry the Potential Serial Killer has got me a bit nervous.

I suspect that it won’t be the last time the groundhog strikes. There are plenty of more-open gardens around the ‘hood where the vegetables are easily accessible. The horrible neighbour in me hopes that the groundhog goes for these before it goes to mine. That’s not very nice of me, is it? But fresh, organic tomatoes are serious business. Sure, you can buy them at the farmer’s market but it’s never the same as going outside, picking a ripe tomato off the vine and eating it there.

If that ground hog dares touch my tomatoes, I won’t be a Happy Camper either.
I’ll keep you posted. At least I didn’t grow sweet pertaters. It seems to like those best.

Happy Wednesday!

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