Sunday, 30 October 2016

Figured out where all the ground cherries went

So the way ground cherries work is, when they are ripe they fall to the ground and you gather them up, sort of like hunting for eggs beneath a very large hen. I have been watching all summer as the berries have clustered in their little Japanese-lantern paper wrappings. It promised to be a bumper crop. But surprisingly, they didn't seem to be ripening. I only found a handful of them lying beneath the leaves. I've been checking all summer, and zilch. So I figured they were just slow to ripen this year.

Well, frost hit and the bush withered and blackened, so I ripped it all out with a sigh. Better luck next year. Yesterday I finished putting the garden to bed (other than the kale and lettuce). As part of the annual routine, I lifted and stacked the wooden walkways that wander throughout the vegetable garden, so that they wouldn't rot under the snow. And guess what I found under the walkways?

Ground cherry paper wrappers. Dozens and dozens of them. Along with a few peanut shells. So it turns out the ground cherries were ripening and falling all along, but the mice were grabbing them before I could find them. Who knew we had mice? And who knew they were so fond of ground cherries?

Next time I will not make assumptions when things don't seem to follow the proper pattern. Though frankly, I don't know what I'd do about mice. Even if I wanted to poison them, I wouldn't want Brio or Maple to come across a poisoned mouse that has wandered away into the yard to die, because they're fluff-brained enough to consider it a snack. And somehow it doesn't seem right to kill a critter that's living in its natural habitat. I mean, I'm the one encroaching on its territory, not the other way round.

Besides, I can sympathize with their love of ground cherries. How can I get upset with them for a trait I share myself?

I fear I'm a lousy gardener. Between sympathy for mice and love of rabbits, I'm doomed to eating whatever paltry leftovers they leave me.

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