Tuesday, May 12, 2009

stolen, reward offered

My cucumber plants have gone missing. Twice. I put three seedlings in the garden last Monday and checked on them Wednesday. Gone. Gone. Gone. As in: gone. I did some research and blamed cutworms. Advice was to plant new seedlings in circles of toilet paper tube. I planted four more seedlings yesterday and today? Gone. But this time there is new evidence: the area is dug up and tossed around. I have four more seedlings. They are upstairs under the protective glow of a plant light, sitting in a little peat pot, anticipating Life in the Big Garden. But I'm afraid to let them go. History is now against their survival.

I started seeds of cherry tomatoes, sandwich tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers. Of those, I like cucumbers best. I'm learning to be a tomato eater, starting with the cherry tomatoes the way I started with white zinfandel wine once upon a time. But the taste of home grown cucumbers is what I want. None of my seedlings grew as quickly as I expected. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but only the cucumbers were past the three inch mark and looking strong enough for the outdoors. Everything else is still indoors.

I did a quick survey of my yard. There have been other thefts also. The new marjoram is gone. There are no chives where I started some from seed. There may or may not be any radishes. (I'm not sure what the leaves look like so I may be nurturing weeds in the garden under their name.) But, the little unknown plant from Bug's school that came in early, early spring in a hand painted pot, which I lovingly kept at the windowsill until after the last frost? Yes. Gone.

My usual policy in the garden is to not invite back any guest who can't survive under the harshness of Atlanta Summers. If they don't make it, I try something else in their place. Harsh policy, but I'm a fair weather gardener. Once the mosquitoes beat me up, I flee, not even returning to water them in the heat. When the lovely sweet potato vine was consumed overnight by slugs, and when the dill was treated as an offering to the caterpillars, they were not invited back. Others, like the trumpet vine I planted in the front, and mint, are pulled up and put on Pot Probation. If they leave the confines of their pot, they're out forever, but I like them enough to offer this second chance.

The cucumber issue feels different. I know cucumbers love this climate. They've grown spontaneously from the compost pile. I want cucumbers. I need cucumbers. And so, I am offering a reward. If you can help me find a way to bring my cucumbers to harvest, I will reward you with... something. Probably cucumbers. Possibly pickles.


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