My sister-in-law dropped off two flats of annuals from her greenhouse (or the “GH,” as she calls it) for me to plant in my Riverside Park garden. But there were some issues—not the Sunflower Torch, which would top out at six feet with a stunning scarlet head, or the Chinese Foxglove, a dripping, drooping purple extravaganza. The problems were the squash and the kale. While country gardeners must cope with deer, I have to worry about rats.
Do rats have vegan tendencies? I gather, from picking up the trash outside their caves, that they are fierce carnivores, finishing off their Happy Meals with a thorough (and no doubt pleasurable) chewing of the greasy cardboard boxes. They didn’t mind takeout from Zabar’s, either, leaving the plastic forks carelessly strewn around for me to pick up—just like my teenage daughters!
I decided to take a chance and plant my veggies downhill, away from the rats’ home in the Manhattan Euonymus. Yes, that’s right—this ubiquitous city bush, also dubbed “the $5 landscape shrub,” is the rat’s answer to affordable housing. As befits its name, the plant is tough, fast-growing and, being evergreen, makes a perfect rat hideout. The rats dig under an exposed root and then live very comfortably on our takeout leftovers. Now I wait to see if the rats are true New Yorkers and will go for the shmear over the squash.