Thursday, August 27, 2009

Farmer Squirrel's Orchard

Do squirrels have green thumbs? The one that lives in the tree behind my house does. I can hear him humming 'We are sowing, daily sowing' through the open window on nice autumn evenings, and in the spring and through the following summer, I see the evidence of his busy agricultural pursuits.

That evidence is filbert seedlings. Tiny hazlenut trees. This critter travels half a block down the alley to the nearest filbert tree and brings home nuts to plant in my flower pots.

Now, I want to tell you that I have tried to sprout at least a dozen avacado pits--you know, stick it with toothpicks and suspend it half in, half out of a glass full of water.

All I got for all that effort was one spindly, anemic plant that I finally put out of its misery. Death by garbage disposal.

Another time, I tried to sprout a coconut. I had a friend who had a wonderful palm growing in her living room. I coveted that palm and even contemplated buying one until I asked how much it cost. I bought a coconut instead, intent on doing what my friend had done: grow my own.

She said I should find one where the eyes were bulging, plant it half in/half out of damp potting soil, put it in a sunny place, and keep it moist.

I got the bulgiest eyed coconut I could, planted it, and dutifully watered it for months. When I finally gave up, it was too big to put down the disposal, so I threw it in the garbage and forgot about it...until I started pulling these little 'weeds' out of my flower pots and found, stuck on a root, a split-apart filbert.

Where did these come from? I finally figured it out one day when I was going into a well-landscaped building and saw a squirrel on the lawn, holding a filbert in his mouth and digging a hole. Sitting close by, by the way, was a crow, salivating as he waited for the squirrel to leave.

Do you think, if I were to plant a dozen filbert nuts in the fall I'd get a dozen seedlings the next spring? Not a chance. But this little squirrel has an amazing success rate. It makes me smile every time I find a seedling, and I give them away when I can talk someone into adopting a 'volunteer' nut tree.

I've left one growing in the pot because I don't want to discourage my little farmer. And besides, it lifts my spirits each time I find a new filbert sprout.

If I still had the farm and enough years left in my life, I'd devote a plot of land to Farmer Squirrel's seedlings and see how big the orchard would get. I might even have him help me with my next try at an avocado pit. Or, maybe I'll leave a coconut lying out in the yard. One with bulgy eyes.
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Monique said...

wow I wish we could do that. I'm afraid that squirrel would have some hefty competition from our rabbits who have eaten our entire garden this year. We'll have to figure something out for next year.

Barbara said...

That was a fun read, puts me in mind of Beatrix Potter and her stories : )