The other day I got some cabbages planted out, big tall cabbage plants, started a couple of months ago in my greenhouse. Steve Solomon says, in his very informative but to my mind a little grumpy book, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, that you should plant early types of cabbages out in mid-March. So I did it. But this is my first dance with cabbage you might say, and really I am afraid to go out there and look this morning. The place is crawling with starving wild animals of every size and sort, slugs and voracious birds and on unlucky days, deer.
I heartlessly threw some lettuce starts out into the world even before the cabbage. They too were greenhouse pampered, though in a chilly greenhouse, and already some little crawling gourmet has been chewing on them. And the lettuces even got the netting over the top of the raised bed to save them from a bunny rabbit with whom I have personally had numerous close encounters of the second kind, plenty enough to know it’s a smart bunny ( perhaps even literary). It mingles with Mr. O’s blackberry vines (the ones that grow over the portable sawmill saw) and so tortures the terrier (Max), who is on the opposite side of the fence, inside the yard, and who can only look through at the really fun-looking bunny. (Fun = will run if you chase it.)
She is brown (the bunny) with an adorable little cotton-tail, and I expect there are about fifty more adorable little baby bunnies there under the blackberry vines that cover the portable sawmill saw. And there they may flourish, lettuce or no. Because I am a veteran of the Raccoon Wars… .
The Raccoon Wars: It was a couple summers back. I was gardening a little woodsy area near the house where I cleared under the trees and set out some sweet native perennials and ferns and bulbs and of course I had planted them with compost and kept them watered nicely this first year so of course there were lots of delectable creepy things living in the dirt, yummy creepy things that some on this planet consider fingerfood. So the raccoons came every night and pretty much rototilled all the beds, turning up ferns and tipping out trillium until it looked like someone drove through with a disc attachment on their John Deere.
I fought back. I live-trapped one enormous raccoon who, it soon became apparent, had psychic communication with a huge and fast-learning extended family. (Nobody else went for the live trap.) (Which was fine since I discovered it’s against the law to release a live raccoon pretty much anywhere.) (Don’t ask.)
Then I went online and read everything about repelling raccoons. We hung lights from the trees. I plugged in a radio and left on the love advice station all night. I put ammonia -soaked rags around in the beds (really pretty). Sometimes I got up in the wee hours and peered out the upstairs window at the (lighted) woods and watched for movement until my feet got cold.
One night I woke at 3:00 a.m., by now semi totally nuts over it all. I went down the big stairway in my long pink nightgown and picked up the little shotgun as I went out the back door. (Gothic romance meets Rambo.)
That night the little woods was lighted in two places by naked bulbs: one clamped on the pumphouse and one at the other end in a tree. It was dead summer and very dark, still and warm and no moon, and the lights made it all film noire-y and stark with black shadows. I walked the sawdusted paths in the eerie silence. I knew I might not be alone, and I watched every which way like crazy. When I stepped around the base of an immense tree suddenly there he was, looking back at me in horror. It was a huge possum, browsing for snacks among the ferns. He was awful, but he wasn’t a raccoon. “That’s not a raccoon,” the surprised huntress said to herself, the shotgun barrel sagging in her weak grip. She watched the prey trot off into darkness.
My long-dead father, who was once a three-state rifle champion, would have been appalled. I was appalled. But I got over it. Clearly though, I lost the Raccoon Wars. And I will fight no more forever. And I will spread no more compost in the woods either.
Okay so the cabbage plants are fine. Here’s a picture. You better frame it because they might all be gone tomorrow.