Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Bumper Crop

The zucchini harvest is in and it's a bumper crop. That's one use for them -- as bumpers. Hang them over the side of your boat or around your dock. Anything to get rid of the things. Me, I'm running out of ideas. They're taking over the backyard, the compost is overflowing, and the relatives are pretending not to be home when we visit. Lately I've taken to leaving them at the front of the house with a sign saying, FREE. Naturally, I always choose a different house -- preferably on the other side of the city.

What I don't understand is, I thought I'd got rid of all my zucchini by the end of August, but I found more last week and again I had to take a detour on the way to work. I thought I was getting the hang of it, leaving before daylight and stopping on a quiet street, but this time I'd only just heaved one out of the trunk when I spotted someone writing down my license number. I put the zucchini back and took off real fast. I ended up leaving them on an elevator at city hall. It was either there or on a bus leaving town.

Then it happened again. The other morning, I discovered three more in the garden -- monsters. I couldn't understand where they'd come from. After the last episode I'd made a point of ripping out anything that resembled a zucchini plant, and yet here were more hiding out under the tomatoes, almost hidden under the foliage. This was impossible; zucchini may grow fast, but they are lazy travellers: They certainly don't drag themselves thirty feet across the veggie patch to lurk under tomato plants. I had a sneaky suspicion these were alien zucchinis -- that is, not grown in my yard. 

I figured someone was using my place as a zucchini dump, and I had a darn good idea who it was -- Shirl from down the street. Whenever I see her, she's walking around with a zucchini under each arm, and I overheard her at the garden centre a while back complaining that her place was overrun with them. She was blaming the folks there for selling her zucchini plants instead of cantaloupe. She gave me a real zucchini-shrinking look when I muttered something about it serving her right for not knowing the difference. I would have kept my mouth if I'd known she'd bear a grudge. It had to be Shirl.

Guess where I took those latest zucchinis -- right down to her place, but not until after dark. Although there was a full moon that night, I wasn't worried. I figured Shirl would be asleep because, like me, she's an early riser, always up early puttering around the yard. I simply walked confidently through the gate and down into her veggie patch. I planned to be in and out in a flash. I shoved the zucchinis in beside her others and was about to leave when I spotted a slug. It didn't matter that it was one of Shirl's slugs; I automatically squished it. Then I saw another, and another. Next thing you know, I'm so busy squishing slugs I forget about the time.

I was still there when a light came on and Shirl appeared on the deck. I realized where I was and made a dive for cover -- right into a tangle of raspberry canes. It was all I could do not to scream, but I did whine a bit, which was a mistake because she thought I was a cat. She hollered something nasty and began throwing rocks -- beaned me right in the head. I still have the bruise -- and a lot of scratches. I lay there for three hours waiting for her to go back to bed so that I could go home. And if that wasn't enough, next morning I discovered two more ^&^$% zucchini in my own garden.

That evening I almost bumped into Shirl as she was coming around the corner carrying a zucchini as usual. I had my little red wagon and was hauling the ones she'd left in my yard the previous night. As we passed, we both smiled and said hello. I don't know where she was headed, but it wasn't my yard because I'd bolted the gate and, as a deterrent, floodlit the veggie garden. I didn't go anywhere near her backyard; getting beaned once is enough, but her car was parked in the driveway -- locked, of course. Actually, it's not a car it's a huge 4x4 with real big wheels -- that's all I'm saying.

From the Diary of a Mad Gardener -- see Amazon