Since COVID put a damper on our normal summer travel plans, we decided to plant a garden. A proper garden. Normally, we throw some seed potatoes in the ground and head off with our little travel trailer because potatoes pretty much grow themselves with only a minimal amount of tending.
No, this summer we were going to plant a variety of vegetables: lettuce, radishes, spinach, carrots, swiss chard (why is it “Swiss?”), onions, squash, beans and peas.
“Not peas,” said my husband. “Sparrows eat them.”
“The pods?” I had never heard of this. In all my years growing up on the farm and planting what seemed like mile-long rows of peas and other vegetables – rows seem a mile long when you have to weed them – I had never heard of sparrows eating peas.
“No, they eat the tender little leaves after the peas germinate.”
He was joking, right? I was having none of it. We planted a row of peas.
One morning after the peas – and everything else – had germinated, I went out for my routine garden visit. Yep, everything’s up. But wait, where were the peas? I bent closer. Good heavens! My husband was right! Something was eating the peas!
After a brief consultation, we threw a net over them. That will keep the sparrows out. Nasty sparrows!
A few days later, another routine garden inspection. Good heavens! Something has eaten the beans! Right down to the stalk! Sparrows eat beans, too?
But wait! The spinach is eaten down, too!
I called over my husband. He was mystified. He hadn’t heard of sparrows eating beans, but well, if peas were off the menu, then perhaps they were willing to diversity their diet.
Just then, the culprit hopped by.
The zoologists among you will know this beast as a species of Hare, Lepus townsendii, also called White-Tailed Jackrabbit. Prairie people know it as “varmit.”
According to A.W.F. Banfield’s The Mammals of Canada, Jackrabbits prefer “a variety of green foliage . . . [and] vegetable greens such as lettuce and cabbage.” Add beans to the list. And spinach.
We looked at Jackrabbit. He sat there, chewing his cud, looking back at us with a “What? Me?” look on his face.
“Git!” we yelled. Jackrabbit “gitted.”
We covered all the rows of beans and peas with a garden net. We put plastic fencing over the spinach and lettuce. We covered everything that we thought nasty Jackrabbit might eat.
Weeding is a bit of a challenge. On the other hand, nothing’s been eating our now-thriving vegies.
Until the cutworms arrive.
(P.S. The zoologists among you will be going “Tsk! Tsk!” about the title because “Bunnies” are not Lepus sp., they’re Sylvilagus sp. To which I reply: Never let a few facts get in the way of a good story.
Or a good title.)
Gardening #Jackrabbits #LepusTownsendii #VegetableGarden #GardenPests #MargaretGHanna #Humour #NonFiction