The Suburban Buffet

My husband likes to grow food.IMG_20140808_093734

Now, when I say “grow food,” I don’t mean a tomato plant or two. This year, he has been working on (with varying levels of success) strawberries, rhubarb, beets, radishes, zucchini, beans, peas, carrots, turnips, green peppers, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and yes, tomatoes (and I look after the herbs). Did I miss any?

We love that the children will happily eat out of the garden, and there is just something special about freshly picked produce. It tastes better, and you know exactly what went into growing and storing it.

You’d think with this level of farming, even on our suburban lot, that we’d be feeding ourselves all summer with nary a trip to the grocery store. Not so. Some crops just inexplicably failed (seriously….who can’t grow zucchini?), some fall victim to insects, but the majority have become an unauthorized, well stocked food bank for a veritable zoo of local fauna.

woodchuck.jpgNow, when I say “zoo”….I don’t mean a squirrel or two. In the past year, we have repeatedly had mice, chipmunks, a whole family of raccoons, countless squirrels, every type of local bird, rabbits, toads, snails, neighbourhood cats and a groundhog (who is nearing size of a small bear and lives under the deck.). I won’t even try to list the insect infestations.IMG_20140716_095310

My husband has tried a variety of half-hearted attempts at deterring the animals, from applying cayenne to the tomatoes, to building a cage for the strawberries. But, to be honest, I kind of enjoy seeing all these animals hanging out in our yard. Tomatoes don’t provide much entertainment value. On the other hand, watching my husband quietly stalking the groundhog with a big cardboard box, with the intention of running out and pouncing on it, is pretty damn funny. (What he planned to do if he actually caught it is beyond me).

Politicians in our community are considering a ban on “feeding wildlife” (with the exception of well-maintained birdfeeders). Uh oh. I hope they mean intentional feeding.

I’m thinking if we want a return on our investment of gardening supplies, effort and timeIMG_20130625_182241, we are going to have to take up hunting small mammals instead. How does pesticide-free, garden-fed, locally-grown, free-range groundhog sound? And, I’m about to go all Mr. McGregor on those rabbits.

At least they left us some rhubarb.

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