from sky to seed

Just when you think you’ve won…

Armadillos take to my kale row. The war is on.

How far would you go to protect your garden?

For me, the lengths involve a gun.  And Jon.

I came out to my garden a few days ago to find the mulch overturned and budding leafy greens trampled.  Deer? I thought, surveying the damage.  After all, when I embarked on my first garden in May, everyone warned me that the deer would eat everything I ever tried to grow ever.  (And that I was an idiot for trying to grow organic, and why on earth would I grow heirlooms when I could grow perfectly manufactured hybrids just like the ones you buy from Walmart, etc.).  But the deer never came.  And my plants bloomed.  And I’m pretty sure I grew the biggest sunflower in MacDonald County.

So when I set out to plant a fall garden, I felt confident.  I’d seen what worked for me and my garden.  I would simply transfer the lessons learned to the new harvest.

But this… I was not prepared for this:

Armadillos are worse than deer because they don’t even eat what you’re growing.  They just uproot the plants and burrow their snouts into the dirt to seek out grubs.

“Why is this happening now?!” I wailed to my gardening friends.

Blame it on nature, they explained.  We’ve had such a wet, lush summer in Missouri that food has been plentiful for everything — not just armadillos, but deer, too.  Which explains why I haven’t battled beasts of nature at all this season.  But these last few weeks we’ve entered a kind of pseudo-drought.  Perfect for gardening, because I could control the amount of moisture in the soil without washing away my brand new baby seeds.  But the exposed dirt plus the rare patch of moisture draws the grubs, and the grubs draw the armadillos.

Every.  Single.  Night.

They come.  When I lie in bed before sleeping I imagine them emerging from the tall grasses at the edge of the pasture, sniffing their way to the garden.  They dig up the rows, overturn the mulch, seeking worms and beetles and everything else that crawls.  They leave the garden in trenches.  It’s like something out of a bad war movie.

And the solutions?  Well, there aren’t much.  They’re persistent buggers.  They’ll dig under fences (and putting up a fence would be such a drag because our ground is so rocky and hard to dig) and roll over barbed wire.  I’ve spread $80 worth of cayenne and red pepper flakes to no avail.  That leaves me with only one option: murder.

Well, I’m being dramatic.  Think of it as “hunting” or “pest removal” or even “survival of the fittest.”  And before you call PETA on me, keep in mind that armadillos are not native to Missouri and carry leprosy.

So there you have it.

The last three nights, we’ve stalked the field, waiting for them to come.  They’re hunkered down.  For now.

But we will prevail.

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