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The Garden of Eatin'

By Jerry Zezima

My wife has ants in her plants. She also has rabbits and squirrels and birds, oh, my!

These creatures have been eating the vegetables in Sue’s garden. In retaliation, my green-thumbed sweetheart has been waging a constant battle to stop the pesky invaders from decimating the fruits of her labors.

“They’re destroying my zucchini!” Sue moaned recently after discovering that some creepy critters had been gorging on the thick courgettes that she takes supreme pleasure in making me eat.

To put it mildly, I am not a fan of squash, although I do like tennis. Sue is also growing cucumbers, which I hate, too, so it’s a good thing I don’t play pickleball.

Anyway, she is at her wit’s end with these creatures. (With me, she is only at her half-wit’s end.)

The question is: How do we get rid of them?

Answer: Dynamite.

As an animal lover, I don’t suggest harming the fine feathered, feelered and furry friends that are feasting and fattening in a feeding frenzy.

Instead, I think the explosives should be used on the veggies themselves. Or maybe a controlled burn would do the trick, though with my luck it would burn out of control, spread to the house and incinerate all the really good and healthful stuff I love to eat, like Twinkies and beef jerky.

I admit that this is a garden-variety problem, but it really bugs (we have plenty of them as well) the dedicated people, like Sue, who grow things that their otherwise appreciative spouses, like me, can’t stand.

That’s why I really shouldn’t complain that an unidentified rodent has been nibbling at the broccoli. If I could talk to the animals — a bunny would probably respond by asking me what’s up — I would encourage them to wolf down every last head, stalk and leaf popping up out of our small patch of earth.

I would also politely ask them to lay off the crops I actually like, such as tomatoes, string beans and eggplant.

Then there are the herbs: Herb Alpert, Herb Brooks and Herb Shriner. No, sorry, I mean parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, which Sue is growing, though not to the tune of “Scarborough Fair.”

Now you may be thinking: This is nature, you idiot! And the animals were here first.

I beg to differ. Sue and I have lived in our house — and on our property, including the garden — for 25 years. No ant, rabbit, squirrel or bird lives that long. So we were here first.

I have proof. It’s called a mortgage. Maybe I should charge the critters rent for taking up residence on our grounds. Sometimes the smaller ones, like flies and bees, get into the house. When I tell them to buzz off, they don’t listen. It’s maddening.

So Sue has resorted to using a spray that supposedly repels vermin. (I’m surprised she hasn’t used it on me.)

There are many such products on the market, all claiming to get rid of garden pests without poisoning them. And therein lies the problem: They don’t work.

This has spawned lots of do-it-yourself remedies. Some gardeners swear by a mixture of water and hot red pepper, then swear at the solution because it turns out to be no solution at all.

I would opt for beer, just to get the little critters stinking drunk, but why waste my supply?

Of course, I could put up a scarecrow with my photo on the face, but that would be cruelty to animals.

In the end, gardeners like Sue must learn to live in harmony with God’s creatures. And I think they should eat all the zucchini they damn well please.

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of six books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent AdventuresEvery Day Is Saturday and One for the Ageless, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won eight awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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