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May 2003 Blether:
2002 Patrick Vickery

"The Critter Blether"

'Blether' is a Scottish word meaning a good chat (a good blether), often a long and lazy relaxed chat at that, and sometimes over a dram or two of whisky!

e-mail Patrick at: aldieburnplants@aol.com

Patrick Vickery lives in the Scottish Highlands with his wife, three children, two dogs, two goats and an assortment of smaller animals. They live in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world.

Patrick runs a small Garden Nursery (part-time), is a Garden Writer (part-time) with a particular interest in the humourous side of things (especially the things that go wrong!), and works part-time as a Special Needs Teacher.

Patrick's first gardening book  In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden. ISBN: 186163148 has recently been published. A 'how-to' book - a book that shows how to make your garden productive in a variety of ways, for both expert and gardening novice alike, at minimum cost and in an innovative and self-financing way, using a raised bed system of propagation, and concentrating primarily on hardy perennial plants that can be raised and grown outdoors without the aid of a polytunnel or greenhouse.

Available direct from the Publisher at: Capall Bann Publishing, UK; from bookshops; or from Amazon.co.uk via the Internet.

more info:

In Pursuit of Perennial Profit - The Pot of Gold At The Bottom of the Garden...

There's a man in Alabama - 'Alabama Man' - with a large garden where he grows
tomatoes, corn, peppers, green beans, turnips and various other vegetables.
He's a design engineer by trade, retired, and one of the people who designed
the moon buggy for the astronauts during their extraterrestrial travels.  I
remember that buggy well. Don't we all?

Now 'Alabama Man'  has  'critters'  in his garden, and these 'critters' are
particularly fond of his green beans.  In other words he has a 'critter' problem.

The first summer planting went well, apparently, with little or no damage to
speak of, but subsequent plantings went entirely to the 'critters'. They
discovered that green beans were very tasty, you see, and also discovered
that his garden was a good source of supply.

What sort of 'critters' were they?

Chipmunks of course; yes, chipmunks in the garden.  An unusual problem, that,
although obviously not unusual in some parts of Alabama.  Not the sort of
thing, however, that I've come across in Scotland before.  Deer damage, yes;
chipmunks, no.

Now the solution to this problem was simple (no, he didn't enlist the help of
his former NASA colleagues to dispatch them to the moon).

Trap them, catch them and then transport them down the road to a peaceful
little valley devoid of vegetables.  A humane solution.

Now this reminds me of a mouse problem that we had a couple of years ago. We
were redecorating the bedroom at the time, you see, and removed ourselves to
the front room for a couple of nights ("a mattress on the floor beside the
Christmas tree" sort of thing) while the heady 'tang' of "fresh paint on
bedroom wall" dissipated into the atmosphere, when we became aware of
nocturnal rustlings in the vicinity of the Christmas tree.  Mice, you see,
and not just a few of them either, eating chocolate decorations off the tree.
 And to think that we'd blamed the dog.  Silver paper on the floor - evidence
of a chocolate-guzzling dog, obviously, obviously.  We'd even put him on a
strict diet on account of this. Poor dog.  Quite clearly a miscarriage of justice.

Now there's a saying in these parts:

"There's mooses loose in the hoose."  Or,  "In the hoose, there's mooses

But that aside, something had to be done. So we trapped them - just as
'Alabama Man'  had done - using humane traps borrowed from the local school's
biology department and whisked them off to a neighbouring village some two
miles away.  Another humane solution to a 'critter' problem.

Incidentally I asked 'Alabama Man' if the astronauts took vegetables with
them to the moon (or any  other gardening produce for that matter), the sort
of question that instantly springs to mind, isn't it, when you have an
interest in all things horticultural. Apparently they'd taken freeze-dried
vegetables with them, he said, in plastic pouches. So I wondered - as you do - whether these pouches had a label stuck on the
back, something along the lines of:

"To taste in orbit, simply add moisture"

Now there's an interesting thought.

Dedicated to the late Claude Green ('Alabama Man') Huntsville, Alabama, USA.
As well as NASA scientist and gardener - and a 'chipmunk- friendly' gardener
to boot -   a nice man with a well-developed sense of humour.

(Copy right 2002 Patrick Vickery)