Friday, May 19, 2006

Peppers and strawberries and birds, oh my

There's no place like California to garden. A native of the northeast living here for almost twenty years, I am still amazed how early warm weather arrives each year. Even though this year's seasonal rains and harsh spring storms lingered longer than usual, I've already got produce from my hot-weather crops.

I was thrilled Thursday to find this tiny pepper dangling on my Anaheim chili.

I had been seeing some action from the volunteer strawberries that showed up mysteriously in the front yard last year. But thanks to neighborhood birds I have yet to sample the goods growing in a small bed that surrounds a large tree. No big deal, I thought. It's not like I put much effort in, heck I hadn't even planted the things. I assumed they were the product of some underdone self-made compost I put there. So I saw them as an offering to the Gardening Goddess, in exchange for the protection of the remainder of my future harvest. And besides, I sort of owed those birds something, what with that empty bird feeder swinging above taunting them for what two, maybe three years since I'd last filled it.

But then I see the same evidence of critters down at the Community Garden plot I'm renting where I'd lovingly and quite purposefully placed two Junebearing strawberry transplants. Alas it is not to be, perhaps. And like the turtles in Susan's Missouri kitchen garden, the birds never finish what they started. I have a feeling the birds take only a bite or two and leave the rest because what they have come upon are only half-red berries, not nearly ripened to their potential sweet perfection. I wish they wouldn't leave behind their half-eaten remains for me to mourn.

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