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Harvest Time

Finally-the garden is giving back. We've got more pecks of peppers than Peter Piper could possibly pick. Yep, the peppers are flourishing and the variety has definitely got to be nourishing be-cause of all the great colors. And, we've got peppers in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are so notoriously hot that the hubby has stepped forward to say he will handle them. He's even talking about making his own Tabasco sauce.

We've also gotten two delicious watermelons; and, two toma-toes. Yes, you read it right-TWO TOMATOES. No sweet corn, no green beans, no limas, and no cucumbers-NONE.

Granted, early in the season, we reaped some great asparagus, plenty of lettuce, and even a few heads of broccoli. But, that was short-lived.

The first planting of corn should have forewarned us of what was in store for the rest of the growing season. After planting row after row of those dried little kernels, I placed tent-like structures made from rat-wire over each row to keep the crows from eating the sprouts when they broke through the ground.

Several days later, when I returned to the garden to plant the tomato plants that I had lovingly nurtured for almost two months, I saw a few dentations in the cornrows. Closer inspection revealed that some rascally varmint had either devoured every single seed or asked the wait-staff to prepare them for take-out. Obviously, the crows were off the hook because the culprit had to be able to fit under the wired caps or commit its thievery underground.

Determined, I planted more corn. This time, I blocked off each end of the wire. And, on the third day, my corn was gone, again. There were no signs of digging, no markings whatsoever-and no corn.

The green bean seeds suffered a similar fate although several did sprout but were soon eaten. Likewise, the limas and cukes went the same route. Even the potatoes fell victim to an underground chipper.

Although the tomato plants flourished, just as the first toma-toes started ripening, the word spread through Groundhog Land. The rush was on to see who could destroy the most tomatoes by taking the least number of bites from each fruit. Eighteen plants and two tomatoes, dare I calculate what those two maters cost?

It's a wonder we got the two watermelons. The ground hogs must have had a drone flying overhead to alert them when that man-of-mine picked the first one. Within a 24-hour period, the remaining melons, chunked and tooth-marked, looked like remnants from a carving convention.

But, we do have pecks and pecks of peppers. Unfortunately, other than a few strips on my salad, I'm not really a pepper fan. Ob-viously, neither are the ground hogs, deer, rabbits, and chipmunks.

Considering the hours put into the garden coupled with the frustration of dealing with the critters, I have to wonder if there is any sense in continuing the battle. We've tried electric fencing. The deer sailed over it and the groundhogs dug under it. To no avail, we've sprayed deer and rabbit repellant, hung aluminum pie plates and CDs, displayed rubber snakes and fake owls, and tried motion lights.

Although I long for the fresh produce, I'm tired of the fight. After all, it's not as if we have to rely on the garden-THANKGOODNESS. So that's it. I'm hanging up my hoe and turning off my tiller. But wait, what about those packs of lettuce and spinach seeds on the Hoosier cabinet by the back door. And, some fresh kale and turnip greens sure would taste good after the first frost. Reckon there's any chance those varmints could learn how to share? Knott Much.