Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fantasy vs. Reality: Urban Gardening Edition

It's a cool, blustery September day. I am walking down the street, in a neighborhood once full of drugs but now clean, and I am starving. I have nothing to eat, no way to obtain food, and it has been days since a fraction of a calorie has passed my lips.

But hark! What is it I see before me? Some good samaritan, some right kind soul, has lovingly planted and tended a garden of edibles. On such a dreary day, it's difficult to see whether any fruits on the tomato plants are ripe, so I think I'll rifle through the greenery until I find something that looks close to edible. Aha! A tomato that looks sort of reddish! And I know, because nobody in their right mind would plant a garden next to the sidewalk unless they intended passers-by to take the produce grown, that this tomato is for me.

I take one bite. It is somewhat unripe. Sour fills my mouth, and I decide it isn't right for me to eat the entire thing myself. I gently place it on the ground on the other side of the front yard, allowing other people dying of starvation to partake.

* * * * * *

What actually happened:

Our garden is in our front yard next to the sidewalk, a space of about four feet by three feet in which we grow three tomato plants, a jalapeno, 2 bell peppers, and lots of herbs and marigolds. It's the only space in the entire yard that gets enough sun to allow anything to ripen. I pick our tomatoes when they are half-ripe and bring them inside, because otherwise people steal them. I had been waiting in anticipation of this tomato for several days, because it was larger than the others and looked like, when ripe, it was going to be really good. I thought about picking the tomato on Sunday, but decided to pick it when I got home on Monday because the day was grey and the tomato was mostly hidden by leaves; I didn't think anyone would notice it to steal it.

I was wrong.

And to add insult to injury, not only did someone pick it, they took one bite and left it there for me to find.

That's what you get for stealing someone else's half-ripe tomato, asshole.

Oh! And I've been growing a bell pepper plant in a pot in the backyard in the one spot that gets a few hours of sun a day - on an old table. The plant had put out one fruit, that ever-so-slowly got larger, and I encouraged it when I walked by every day to grow bigger and make more peppers. It had just started to turn when we left to run an errand on Saturday and I noticed it was gone. Two feet away on the ground, it lay, nibbled in places, and I knew it was those bastard squirrels. Why a squirrel would want to steal an unripe red bell pepper, I'll never know, but I waited two damn MONTHS for that pepper. And it abandoned the thing after a few tentative tastes. Effing squirrels.


Cilicious said...

My sympathies.
Denver squirrels are insatiable, especially during their fall feeding frenzy. They know winter is coming.
Those damned rats with fluffy tails aren't much better here, but Florida squirrels are smaller and less aggressive.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Okay, came in to sympathise about the stolen tomato but now laughing at Cil's chillaxed florida squirrels comment. I see them lying around on a beach, drunk on margaritas.

Sucks man, but I'm not surprised. I think you post about having your produce stolen every year. I vote electric fence or vicious produce guard dog. Laser beams on Loki's head?

MLE said...

Yeah, but this being the 3rd summer we've lived here I've learned my lesson - I pick stuff when it's still obviously not ripe to let it ripen inside. I don't plant red bell peppers in the front (too heartbreaking). I don't mind losing a tomato or two, but I just happened to be really looking forward to this one. And the idiot left the stupid tomato there.

I mean, come on. Who steals someone else's half-ripe tomato, takes one bite, and then leaves it?

Cil, I really didn't think that a squirrel would want a bell pepper, particularly one that wasn't even close to ripe. We had a banner year for fruit trees this year and the crab apples and plums are insanely prolific, so I figured the squirrels would just eat those and leave my innocent bell pepper alone.

If there was any way to fence off that part of the yard, I would, but I don't think it would do any good. And I think Petra would get the raw end of the deal with a Laser-beamed Loki head.

Yank In Texas said...

Well my tomatoes, ripe or not, always had a bite or something like it, and it's not in the front yard, so you could have had some animal. I got one whole roma from my plant. sigh.
That still doesn't make any sense. why would someone do that?

Anonymous said...

You want to talk squirrels? Last summer, I decided to store my hockey equipment in my shed, hung up nicely in the corner. October rolls around, and the hockey season starts. Day 1, I remove said hockey equipment from the shed, make sure everything is there, and off I go to skate. I sit down in the dressing room and start rifling through my bag, and notice a bunch of acorns in the bottom. Dam squirrels. As I curse them, I take my hockey glove out of the bag, and it is literally full of nuts, acorns, chicken bones, and whatever else those shitheads store for the winter. First glove is followed by the second glove, also full, followed by both skates, also full. Insane! As I empty all of these into the garbage can, I get nothing but laughs from the other guys in the room.
Anyways, I emptied each piece, only leaving the minute squirrel hairs that were impossible to get out. Being the first game and all, I decided to go ahead and risk health by cleaning them best I can, and playing anyways. My hands never fell off, my feet only itched for a week, and I scored a hat trick.
And its only now I realized as I write this, my equipment is hung up in the garage this year, very accessible to squirrels. I better go check.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

An asshole does that, that's who.

You should be able to plant your peppers wherever you want and eat all the tomatoes you water. I didn't mean "suck it up, you should have known"-it was more like "I'm not surprised you're getting your shit stolen in spite of all the precautions you're taking."

I still like the idea of all these jerks getting a painful shock! Or something that nips at their fingers when they try to thieve.

When I was back in Massachusetts it was interesting to see how many people had turned their front yards into gardens. MY parents complain about losing a lot of produce to deer but they're philosophical about it. The undeveloepd land that the deer and animals used to live on got sold to make a gigantic McMansion neighbourhood and they are squeezed.

Cilicious said...

Wheels, sorry, but that's hilarious.
I think I told y'all years ago about how ravenous the squirrels were after a particularly vicious hailstorm turned our yard into pesto.
The storm took away their ready food supply, so the squirrels turned, even more than usual, to our homegrown produce. We had squirrels chewing our window screens to get to tomatoes that were ripening on the sill. Sprinkling everything with cayenne pepper did help a bit.
With the bell pepper, but maybe it just looked so juicy or something?
Dunno. But I feel ya. It can be very frustrating.

MLE said...

Wheels, that is totally awesome. I mean, I'm sure it sucked, but it was a great story!

The tomato had been plucked by human hands and placed on a railroad tie on the opposite side of the lawn. It was pretty obviously bitten (once) by a human as well.

Cil, that's crazy about the squirrels. I just thought they were assholes because I can't keep any bird feeder from falling prey to them, and they tease the cats when they're watching the kitty show (back door open, screen door closed). I guess I'm lucky they haven't discovered the tomatoes and peppers in the front yard. Maybe it's too high traffic - we get a lot of people walking by every day.

Anonymous said...

Wait, you scored a hat trick and you want to prevent this from happening again? I say let it go, empty out your gear on the first day of the season, and if you score another hat trick, put a little "Holiday Inn for Squirrels" sign in front of your shed next year...