Let My Garden Grow

By Jeffery Cohen

Let My Garden Grow

Gardening was a part of my life. The piece of mind I gained by communing with nature was cheaper than therapy. The serenity I felt by being at one with Mother Earth was better than meditating. The exercise I got from lifting and stretching with a shovel and a rake was as beneficial as any yoga class I had ever taken. You couldn’t put a price on the satisfaction I felt by having a table full of fresh, colorful vegetables and flowers, raised by my own efforts. I loved gardening. That’s when the groundhog showed up.

One morning I went out to check the progress of a patch of leafy green lettuce. I found a groundhog giving a buzz cut to six lovely heads. The minute he caught sight of me he scampered down his hole. I immediately barricaded it with a pile of bricks. The next day I found more damage and another hole, which I filled again. This continued until I ran out of bricks – and patience. By now, my garden had sprouted so many holes; it began to look more like Swiss cheese than Swiss chard. That’s when I decided on a new tactic. Marigolds!

Gardeners swear that this little bright colored flower is guaranteed to ward off all kinds of nibbling intruders. I planted flats of the strong smelling orange blooms everywhere I could find an available spot. The groundhog noticed the new additions instantly, and found them quite delicious, leaving dozens of flowerless stems behind.

“Groundhogs, groundhogs,” I muttered as I paged through stacks of gardening books in search of an answer, and found out that groundhogs are supposed to be very shy animals. The two things they seem to avoid are people and noise. I dragged an old guitar out into the middle of my pea patch, sat on a lawn chair and began to play every song I had ever learned, from “Kumbaya” to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” At the end of several hours I was pleased to find that not a single groundhog poked its nose out of its hole – until I returned to the house. That’s when a whole hungry groundhog family appeared and began chomping on everything in sight. My singing seemed to have given them an appetite.

A friend suggested mothballs. Their camphor scent was supposed to ward off varmints better than wolf bane chased away werewolves. I dumped the contents of three entire boxes down the latest hole. I can’t be certain but, the next day; I could swear I saw two groundhogs playing marbles with those mothballs.

I tried everything. I built a scarecrow. It kept the crows away but didn’t faze the groundhogs. I tied strings of pennants up and down the garden rows thinking the bright colors might act as a deterrent. It began to look like a used car lot – infested with groundhogs. I hung stacks of aluminum pie plates from nylon fish line. They twisted, they turned, they blew about wildly in the breeze. They crashed like cymbals, keeping me and my neighbors awake half the night but didn’t seem to bother the groundhogs at all.

Finally, I hauled rolls of chicken wire and wooden slats from the local hardware store and spent the next three days erecting indestructible fences. I dug trenches around every vegetable bed and buried the wire a foot deep to prevent the animals from digging underneath. I built fences three feet above ground to block their ground attack. At long last, I was satisfied. Despite the cost, the work and the fact that my pretty little garden now looked like an armed camp, I had won the “groundhog wars”

The following morning I went out to my garden, confident of my victory. There, at the very top of a fence post, a fat, furry groundhog sat, contemplating which of my vegetables would be his next meal. I can’t swear to it, but I think he winked at me!

About this writer

  • Jeffery Cohen Freelance writer and newspaper humor columnist, Jeffery Cohen, has written for Sasee, Lifetime and Read, Learn, Write. He’s won awards in Women-On-Writing Contest, Vocabula’s Well Written Contest, National League of American Pen Womens’ Competition, Southern California Genealogy Competition, and Writer’s Weekly writing contest.

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One Response to “Let My Garden Grow”

  1. Mary Ann says:

    Having lost battles against rabbits and moles, trust me, critters are smarter than we are. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experiences.

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