Something for Nothing

Mid April, and the inch of sleet that fell on Friday didn’t do anything to dissuade the crocuses that it’s time to go. Same for the several pink and purple trumpet flowers by the back windows — I will call them hyacinths until I learn otherwise — and the snowdrops that have been going strong for a couple weeks. These little guys that start the season come from blunt spears and go so quickly to soft color; they last long enough to mark and appreciate, to get just big enough to warrant walking around in this meadowy yard, and then they blink out. Last week there was a cluster of pale purple crocuses at the base of the quince tree (dang, if that isn’t the most pastoral sounding thing?), and then, by yesterday afternoon, they had gone without a trace. Whether it’s because these were particularly delicate, or because that’s how these early plants go, as though yanked back into the ground by a trained Fraggle, I just don’t know.

It is also possible they were sheered off at the ground by deer, like some of the perennials in the front bed, the ones I uncovered yesterday while raking (one mature maple, enough leaves for a lifetime of raking — and we have two of them). There is a resident troupe of 10 — witnessed as 40 silouetted legs striding from the compost heap to the road one night last month — that is inspiring me to new heights of dedication in deterring. That really just means I have paid money, something that I don’t do easily for garden stuff, and then only because I can also use the deterrent as fertilizer: it’s blood meal, which is said to ward off deer when spread or hung in pouches around a garden, and which also happens to be an excellent source of nitrogen. Much better, in my mind, to fertilize the soil than to hang the fruit trees with slowly dissolving pyrethrin, etc., from mothballs, another method I considered to deter deer, because it’s cheap and because it’s supposed to also deter squirrels, and, no doubt, moths. But, ultimately, I try to stick to a mathematics of health improvement when gardening, and¬†mothballs don’t have anything going for them in that column. Blood meal, while gnarly,¬†has more to offer because of that nitrogen boost it gives plants, and also because the PBS channel taught me long ago that things naturally die and are bloody (that “Nature” show on the doomed cheetah totally eclipsed every episode of the “Electric Company” I ever saw), so it’s a thing that is there, already.

As nature is tough, so are plants, and the honed moxie that is propelling the crocuses and daffodils is also bringing the rhubarb back from nothing. And that is very rewarding for a tough budgeter.

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