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I went on vacation. It was the perfect trip. We spent a week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina-where I got tanned and rested and picked up a few recipes to share with you later this summer. We even weathered Tropical Storm Andrea and were none the worse for the wear.
I had two worries that nibbled at my brain while I was away-one was the welfare of my dog, who turned out to be having a fabulous time with her dog sitter.
The second worry was my garden. Planted only a week before I left, I worried it wouldn’t rain enough-or would be too hot-or would be invaded by a variety of wildlife which makes its home in the wooded creek behind our property and under our shed.
Turns out, I had reason to worry.
When I came home, I was greeted by a horrible sight. ALL of my cabbage plants had disappeared. No trace of them whatsoever. Gone from the face of the Earth, as were my dreams for testing vintage coleslaw.
I also lost an eggplant. What eats eggplant?
The most upsetting loss to me was my strawberry plants. When I left, I had more than a dozen little green berries and lots of shoots. When I came home-all the berries were gone as were half the shoots. It even looked like something had shredded the leaves off one of the plants and carpeted the garden with them.
My vintage garden books are no help in this matter. They suggest a variety of sprays to rid plants of pests-including kerosene and arsenic. No thanks.
There is one method I read about a long time ago-and which I have used in the past, with some success. Cayenne Pepper Powder-what I like to affectionately refer to as “The Ring of Fire.” I buy a 16 ounce jar-or three or four of them for the whole summer-and I sprinkled a good line of it around the affected plants. It usually keeps the animals away-they hate the smell and taste of it. The problem is that you have to reapply it every time it rains or when you water.
I’ve also tried planting marigolds around my garden. Rabbits hate them and one year, when I was without a fence, I made a ring of marigolds around the vegetables and I kid you not, nothing was eaten.
I got out the Cayenne Pepper tonight. I sprinkled it. 30 minutes later, it rained.
I think I’m going to go invest in some marigolds. And some netting. And some new plants to replace the cabbages. I’m taking suggestions.