|Mrs. Rabbit goes vegetable shopping|
(Apologies to Beatrix Potter)
“My dears, I’ve got to dash around to the Ancient Gardener’s vegetable garden and get some food for dinner,” Mrs. Rabbit said to her two children, Peter and Cottontail. “While I’m gone, you two stay under the bleeding heart plant or in the liatris and don’t venture onto the lawn or a hawk or a fox might get you.”
|Peter snacks on a penstemon petal|
Mrs. Rabbit checked the area for danger and then hippity-hopped, hippity-hopped up the sidewalk and around the end of the house toward the Ancient Gardener’s vegetable garden. “I wonder what veggies will be available today,” thought Mrs. Rabbit, as she slid under the arching leaves of stella d’oro daylilies and stopped at the wire fence surrounding the vegetable garden.
Mrs. Rabbit had to wiggle to get through the fence. “I’ve got to call Weight Watchers, or one of these days I won’t be able to get into this garden,” she mused.
|Cottontail samples fescue seeds|
Mrs. Rabbit hopped through the muddy garden and onto the straw mulch and bit off the main stem of a plant about an inch above the ground. She had just bitten off a leaf when she heard a frightening sound—the squeak of the door hinge that warned that the Ancient Gardener was coming out of the garage.
Mrs. Rabbit dropped the leaf, hopped over the decapitated plant, wiggled through the fence, and raced past the garage to the safety of the frontyard perennial garden.
|Evidence on the asphalt|
The Ancient Gardener was steaming. “Of all the luck,” he said to himself. “A rabbit decapitated one of my test varieties for this year—a Solid Gold. They should have named it Rotten Luck.”
But as the Ancient Gardener calmed down, he had an idea. The severed but fresh top of the plant reminded him of reports that some gardeners start new tomato plants by planting the suckers they prune from larger tomato plants. They water them regularly for about two weeks to keep the soil around the stems moist until they root, sort of like rooting African violet leaves in a glass of water. Tomatoes are naturally great at adventitious rooting, as it’s sometimes called.
And that’s what the Ancient Gardener did. He pinched off a lower leaf or two from the freshly severed stem and planted the cutting so the bottom half was in the soil. And then he watered it regularly—a 16-ounce soda bottle of water every morning and evening on regular spring days and a third bottle mid-day on hot days.
|Re-rooted tomato plant after 28 days|
The “new” tomato plant probably will grow happily ever after because Mrs. Rabbit no longer visits the tomato garden. Maybe she’s expecting and no longer can squeeze through the fence, or maybe she forgot to call Weight Watchers.
Mrs. Rabbit, Peter, and Cottontail still live among the front-yard perennials. The Ancient Gardener and the Mrs. occasionally see Mrs. Rabbit through a window in the late evening when they suspect she’s coming to tend her kids.
The last time the Gardeners saw Cottontail, she was dining on the seeds of a Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ plant. Peter the Braveheart sometimes does hopping practice on the sidewalk while the Gardeners sit on front-porch gliders just 10 feet away. Peter thinks nothing of nibbling on fallen flower petals or hosta leaves while the Gardeners point and whisper, “There’s the bunny.”