the sight of defoliated peach and apricot treesin my front yard makes me think about the upcoming gardening season.
2013 may have been the worst gardening experience since I moved to San Diego. Most of my potatoes failed miserably, birds and rodents besieged my garden throughout the summer, gnawing their way through my San Marzano vines and eventually reaching my heirloom tomatoes.
However, it takes more than legions of burrowing rodents to break the heart of my inner gardener and I eventually began asymmetrical warfare on the pests, which lifted my spirits beyond belief.
I’m not in a situation where I can call in remote control gunships to wipe out voles and gophers.
But I do have an unbelievably accurate air rifle, several tins of hyper velocity .177 pellets and a comfortable perch on my roof with a sandbag rest for my rifle and an unobstructed views of my gardens.
I detest voles (aka the common meadow mouse) so much that this summer I toyed with the idea of skinning sniped critters, adding a latch to their muzzles and sellling them on eBay as “eye glass or cellphone cases for gardeners.”
But no, that seemed too extreme so I just heave their carci over a fence so the local hawks can have a nutritious organic snack. It works and I may have habituated a couple of local red tails this year.
Squirrels are different. There are laws against randomly plinking them where I live. But that hasn’t stopped me from decimating the local squirrel army.This year I bought a “Squirrelanator” live trap and bait it with cut apples, peanuts and other fruit. It really works and I’ve been steadily depleting their numbers since March.
Once they’re in the trap, I cover the cage with a blanket and bungee cord it to the back of my ATV.
Trapped squirrels get a one-way trip to an abandoned grove with a water source about one mile from Rancho Bizarro. I don’t think any of 100-plus rodents i’ve relocated this year have made it back. YET.
It’s been a challenging year for me. I lost my mother and my beloved dog, “Perro The Emperor Chihuahua of Escondido” in the last 13 months. Plus I am slowly coming to grips with a health issue-- Agent Orange is the gift that keeps on giving to men of my generation who served in VietNam.
In combination,my lifelong need to write took a big hit. So,I’m using gardening to unleash my dark humor again.
Now allI have to do is organize the seed and root stock catalogs I have stashed by my desk, sharpen and clean my garden implements and build raised garden beds using the Home Depot Gift cards I got for my 6xth Birthday.
It’s December 29, I have peppers and ripening tomatoes in the garden and a new tin of pellets. Let the gardening begin. jim Forbes on a late 75 degree December afternoon in Escondido, CA.