Simple words, but with earth-shaking consequences for the garlic monster that’s taken a third plant. That’s 15% of my crop, and even God only asks for 10%.
“Okay, no more Mrs. Nice Guy,” I said. “We’re going to Hooten’s after lunch so I can talk to the garden guy.”
It turned out to be his day off, and the man who was filling in (I’ll call him Jim – not to protect his privacy but because I’ve forgotten his name) wasn’t sure how to answer my questions.
“Something’s eating my garlic from underground. Do you have any idea what it might be?”
“Hmmm. Maybe it’s grubs.”
“Do you really think so? Grubs would probably just gnaw at the bulb, wouldn’t they? That’s not what’s happening. The plant starts to sag, and when I pull it up there’s nothing there. It’s as if the whole bulb of garlic has been harvested from the bottom, just cut off.”
“Maybe it’s moles or gophers.”
Like most men, David doesn’t like to ask for directions, and he doesn’t like to ask for help in a store. While I was having this conversation, he was doing a search on the little problem-solving computer halfway down the aisle.
“It says moles eat grubs and worms and such, but gophers eat bulbs and other plants. Sounds like it’s a gopher to me.”
Jim seemed relieved to have some direction, so he showed me the options for eliminating my problem. I picked up an electronic device that supposedly drives pests away with a high-pitched tone that’s inaudible to humans. It sounded nice and clean and humane. Unfortunately, it was intended mostly for mice, and it had to be plugged in to an electrical outlet. My garden is much improved over last year, but it’s not yet supplied with electricity, so we moved on to more primitive methods.
He showed me a cone-shaped container of poison that claimed the power to rid me of the furry monster in a more permanent way. Then he showed me a gopher trap. It was a small but complicated metal gizmo made up of various springs and triggers and some very evil looking spikey things. He set it gingerly, making sure it didn’t snap back on his fingers. He almost used his knife to trip the trigger and show me how it worked, but he considered the possible effects on his fingers and thought better of it. He found an open flat space, set the trap down and used a long rod to set it off. When he hit the release and the evil-looking sides snapped together, I turned and reached for the poison.
“I think I’ll try this,” I said.
I think I can deal with the thought of the garlic monster clutching his little throat, gasping for breath more easily than I can deal with the picture of him skewered in a contraption fit for the Marquis de Sade’s chamber of horrors. I know it’s war, but there are limits to what I’ll do to protect my crops.