Photo by Audrey Pavia
Early last summer, my roommate Lisa planted a garden. Using four of the large terra cotta pots that were sitting empty on my patio, she started peppers, tomatoes and strawberries. She diligently watered the seedlings every day and, before long, the bright California sun brought forth healthy, happy, full-grown plants.
But then, one night, tragedy struck. Someone forgot to latch the gate to Milagroâ€™s stall, and in the middle of the night, he got out. He made a beeline for the back lawn, but on the way, he stopped at Lisaâ€™s potted garden. He ignored the tomatoes and the peppers, but the strawberry plants were not so lucky.
In the morning, I found Milagro happily grazing on the lawn. Lisaâ€™s strawberry plants were demolished. Not eaten, mind you; just torn out by their roots and thrown around the patio. Needless to say, Lisa did not get strawberries that year.
This summer, Lisa started her garden once again: She tended to it with great care, being sure to water it every day, and the plants grew quickly. Right now, the tomato plant has lots of little yellow flowers where tomatoes will soon show. The pepper plant has little green peppers dangling from the leaves. And the strawberry plant has big, bright-green leaves. At least it has some bright-green leaves. A number of those leaves were decimated, this time by Rio, who escaped from his stall the other night.
The crime was discovered few mornings ago, when I got up to find Rio grazing on the back lawn. On the patio nearby, a handful of Lisaâ€™s naked strawberry plants were wilting in the sun; they had been torn out by the roots. Not eaten, just ripped out and tossed aside.
What is it with Spanish Mustangs and strawberries? Is it that the plant smells good, but once the horses get into the mouths, they decide they donâ€™t like the taste? And why donâ€™t they attack the tomatoes and the peppers, but only the strawberry plants?
I suspect this will remain an unsolved mystery for many years to come. Meanwhile, everyone in the household is now trying to be diligent about keeping the stall doors latched, for the sake of Lisaâ€™s strawberries.