We wound up planting pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, carrots, corn, and potatoes.
We had a ton of mulch left over from the year before, so I made sure to hill up the potatoes with mulch every few days. After about a week, I noticed that my potato seedlings were squirming. I uncovered a baby mouse. Then another. Seven pink babies later, I realized that we had mice in our shed where the cedar chips had been kept, and that I had just mulched with baby rodents. Not a good sign for the future garden!
To keep pests away, we decided to take a chemical approach. We picked up coyote urine at Mackey's, and I faithfully poured it around the garden every Saturday. I quickly learned two very important things: coyote urine should never be administered during high winds, and it takes about 16 shampooings to get that smell out of your hair. The woodchucks didn't seem to be bothered by it at all as they systematically dug up our carrots and ate them, using the leafy green carrot tops as garnish. We needed another approach, which is about the time that Jason bought the air rifle.
For all of you animal rights nuts out there, let me assure you that the scope on this air rifle has never been calibrated, and Jason never had a chance of actually hitting a woodchuck and injuring it. He is a terrible shot. However, the noise did seem to scare the woodchucks, and it was kind of fun to watch them jump up and waddle as fast as they could off in to the neighbor's garden. The carrots were a loss, but the rest of the garden was blossoming nicely. Except for the peppers. They never did seem to get over being transplanted.
Pumpkins, watermelons, and cucumbers are all traveling vines, which is why they should never be planted near each other, according to the website I looked up after my watermelons turned yellow and died a slow death. The pumpkins spread out to the woods and the cucumbers overtook the pepper patch (really, they weren't going to make it anyway). Our cucumbers began producing at an alarming rate, and we found ourselves overrun. Our parents, siblings, carpool buddies, coworkers, and mailman began refusing to take any more, and I had to start coming up with some creative recipes. We had cucumber sandwiches and cucumber dressing, cucumber gimlets and cucumber soup. I perfected my cucumber salad recipe, which didn't matter, because Jason refused to eat any more after the 26th night in a row of cucumber as a side dish. I started piling them up at the side of the road with a huge "free" sign next to them, but even our neighbors were apparently sick of them, because now we have a large compost heap of cukes in the front yard.
This compost heap came in handy once we started harvesting the pumpkins. We proudly went out together to harvest our first one, holding hands and taking a moment to admire its perfect orange symmetry. Then Jason lovingly cut the stem, and lifted up our first pumpkin. The rotted-out bottom immediately gave, and a mountain of millipedes poured out of the bottom of this thing. Had I not been vomiting on my bug-covered Crocs, I suppose I would have appreciated the Halloweenyness of this, but those black worms with their wriggling legs and pumpkin flesh still stuck to their pincers were enough to make me throw in the towel. We tossed the pumpkin in the compost heap, and headed down to the farmer's market to buy a jack-o-lantern that was free of creepy-crawlies.
The corn, I can report, did remarkably well. You realize, of course, that I hate corn.