We're dealing with a rascal.
A deviant. A downright scoundrel. A bona-fide, pure-bred rascal.
Our rascal has us feeling more agitated than any of these above characters. More...Fudd-like.
Befuddled, if you will. (What? You don't like a solid pun when you see one?)
When you've been coasting along for months thinking merrily to yourself, "Gee, it sure is great we haven't had any deer or feral hogs causing mayhem in the vegetables," it sure is time for a rabbit to move in.
Actually, this rabbit family has been in residence for a while, but it's only recently they've suddenly clued in on the salad buffet we opened up 10 yards away. Edamame! Green Beans! Sweet Potatoes! It is kind of us to provide such nutritious treats for a growing family of animalia.
The problem is, these adorable fauna nearly decimated our new plantings of edamame and beans as soon as they popped through the soil. And they've begun on the sweet potatoes now. And this, well, this means war.
Well, not truly war. We don't wield shotguns like our buddy Elmer, and they have not responded to the live trap as of yet. Thus, our tactics have turned more biological. In fact, it's been an entire week of wielding biological methods with the aim of deterring all manner of unwanted pests.
In an attempt to scare off Mr. and Mrs. Bunny and their 3 million children, we opted for a garlic-pepper tea. I blended some of our hottest cherry peppers and 2 bulbs of garlic. The mixture sat, gaining spicy potency for nearly 48 hours, and after straining out the pulpy bits, I combined 1/4 cup of the concentrate with each gallon of water sprayed.
The idea here is that the greens will take on the strong odor and taste of the pepper and garlic, making them quite unpalatable to the rabbits. We'll only use this method sparingly, as it does also keep away the beneficial bugs as well.
Yet, the Spice Battle doesn't end there.
Our squash babies need some attention as well. Originally, Alex and I had decided to steer clear of growing summer squash--in our experience, it's a road fraught with grief. A clever little varmint named the Squash Vine Borer nearly always finds its way to your plants, and is a crack shot at destroying the lot. As the name suggests, they start at the bottom of the stem and bore their way in.
It's sad and messy, and if you don't feel that blasting the plants with insecticide OR a nightly sleepover vigil in the squash fields are reasonable options, you simply avoid growing it.
However, we were sweet-talked into this questionable task by imploring customers at market. And so, there I was this week, bent over each plant with a squeeze bottle of peppery powder.
Diatomaceous earth and cayenne pepper make a dangerous cocktail for the borer larvae, and the hope is that with some of this powdery concoction around the base of each plant, the little buggers will bug off. The diatomaceous earth is made up of fossilized remains of ancient hard-shell algae, but it's most recognizable as something resembling powdered sugar. If little exoskeleton-having fellas crawl across it, the D.E. soaks up the lipids in their body, causing them to dehydrate and croak.
No one said working with Mother Nature wasn't gruesome.
However, there is some fantastic news in the critter-sphere. While weeding this week, McFarmer and I kept coming across oodles of earth worms and a bajillion lady bugs. Truly, oodles and bajillions.
So, if those welcome guests find the farm attractive, it can't all be so bad.