by Christine Baker

We are well into the high heat of summer here in the deep south. Every year I seem to hear the same echo, “It’s hotter than it’s ever been before.” But the reality is Louisiana summers are really hot. They always have been and always will be. It’s what occurs when you’re living in a semi-tropical climate.

So my hubby got the bright idea to try something different with our backyard garden this summer.

Actually, his bright idea began long before summer. It was probably during the cold winter months in the house in his nice comfy recliner by the fireplace watching YouTube gardening videos. But I only found out about it one spring day through a text. I was at a local big box store and came across a seed display and, being the good gardener’s wife that I am, I sent him a quick text and said, “Do you want me to pick up some seeds?” I was speaking his language so I figured I would hear back quickly.

The reply was almost immediate, “Yes, buy me some sunflower seeds.” “Sunflower seeds?” “Yes, sunflower seeds.”

I picked up two packets and went on my merry way thinking “What is he up to?” Not long into the evening, I hear, “Honey, you bought two different varieties of sunflower seeds – one that grows four feet tall and one that grows 14 feet tall. What were you thinking?” I guess I wasn’t a good gardener’s wife after all.

His plan was to plant sunflower seeds in different places in the garden to attract bees. We have had a hard time getting and keeping these pollinators and, as any good gardener knows, bees are vital to a healthy garden. The task was simple, dig a hole, plant the sunflower seed, water and wait. It worked.

He strategically placed the seeds on two opposite ends of the garden and in no time at all, we saw stalks beginning to grow. We watched them with child-like eyes, anticipating full growth and beautiful yellow flowers covered in bees. We were not disappointed. Our combined efforts were rewarded with a garden full of lush plants pollinated by, you guessed it, an abundance of bees.

Then, in one day, all our hard work was dashed when my husband came home and noticed that one of our sunflowers (it was about five or so feet tall) was bent in two and the flower had been chewed off and decimated into pieces. He scratched his head in wonder about what could have done such a thing.

We weren’t too concerned because he had planted numerous other seeds and many other sunflowers were presently growing to maturity. Then it began to happen to other sunflowers and then to our vegetables. Finally, one day, he discovered the culprit. He was working near the garden when all of a sudden his eye caught a movement and he saw a squirrel pluck a tomato off of a plant, walk away and bite into the delicious fruit. My husband went after him and he dropped the half-eaten tomato and ran off. Oh, we no longer had a bee problem. But now we have a squirrel problem.

The sunflower seeds that lured the bees, were also an open attraction to squirrels, “Come on in and eat your fill.”

Frank A. Clark says, “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

C.S. Lewis says, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

My husband and I have learned many lessons recently. Sunflowers don’t belong in a southern garden. Pests come in different shapes and sizes. Reading seed packages before purchasing is important and not all YouTube videos tell you the whole truth.

As always, Good eating! Good living! Good loving! Good learning along the way!

Au revoir, mes amis!
Christine Baker


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