Sunday, July 27, 2008


On July 4, not having any family in town for the first time in many years (on the 4th, that is), I decided to turn my compost pile. It is supposed to be turned every three months but over the last year I'd gotten lazy about it and hadn't done anything except just toss in grass, leaves, and kitchen scraps.

Sure enough, though, the bottom 8" of the compost bin was great, friable dirt, so I left it in place and moved the bin crate and turned the part that was not-quite-dirt into it. This was going to be the start of an organic garden!

Now comes the part that is probably normal to a farmer but was totally unexpected and vile to someone who grew up in the sterile suburbs. As I was moving the compost contents, a nasty rat ran out and up my pitchfork, scaring both of us half to death. I screamed, the pitchfork went over the fence (thank goodness the kids next door were not in the yard to get speared!) and the equally terrified rat went flying into a flowerbed.

I am absolutely rat-phobic. My last house turned into Horror House when rats found the bird feeder and dozens of the beasts were outside my bedroom window one night crawling all over the feeder and stand. Then a couple (or more) got into the attic and subsequently fell into the walls where they made scratching noises. My son had to come over to cut a hole in the wall and then catch and dispatch the doggone things. Apparently a few died in the walls, became home to maggots, which crawled out under the baseboards and looked like wiggling rice. Then the maggots still in the wall hatched into flies and I came home from work to a house FULL of flies. I sold the house and moved away. Not just because of the rats/maggots/flies but that was the last straw and I moved to a brand new house in The Woodlands, where I've been for four years now.

Back to the rat in the compost. I got into the car, muddy clothes and all, went to Home Depot, and bought rat poison, which I set out in my now not-so-organic garden. The rat poison drew fire ants, which took the torquoise block of poison apart and carried it off tiny bit by tiny bit to wherever they were living at the time, then set up shop in the garden, leading to ant poison in the garden. I am way too much of a city girl to know what to do with rats and ants in an organic way. Must learn quickly. What do I need? Snakes? Yikes! This gets worse and worse.

I found some old packets of seeds that I bought a year or so ago at Walgreens (really!) for ten cents a package. I'll write about my fanatic coupon shopping another time. I planted pumpkins, zucchini, and summer squash. The heat of a Houston summer is not the best time to plant anything but with cheap seeds I thought I'd give it a try on July 5 and see what happens. According to the package they should be ready for harvest by October. We'll see.

I decided to buy some more compost and make a BIG garden - about 250 sq ft - on the side of the house, replacing a useless strip of grass with a walkway and gardens. I bought 4 yds of a mix of compost and organic soil and had it delivered. It arrived at noon on a 100 degree day, and I started trying to move it to the garden. I stopped before I dropped dead and called my son who sent his son the next morning to finish the job for me.

The pumpkin seeds sprouted on July 10 and the squash on July 11.

More later. I'll try to get this blog caught up over the next few days.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

I'd have totally given up on the garden when I saw the rat!! I'm impressed with your green thumb.