Written by Alexandra Carelli
There is yet to be a project on the face of this earth that is seen through to completion without some trials and tribulations, and our garden project is no exception. Yesterday when I went out to do the daily watering, I was greeted by the horrific sight of stripped pepper plants and disappearing bean sprouts. Where just a day earlier stood a healthy, stoic clump of leafy green peppers, now stood little more than a green stick, stuck pitilessly in the dirt. And to make matters worse, the little bean stalks that had so ceremoniously poked their heads out of many corners of the garden (apparently they grow well in Costa Rica), had been reduced to barely visible white stumps. All of my trash hauling, bed building, soil preparing, fence raising, compost starting efforts had been wasted. Enter: overwhelming sadness.
It is certainly tough to see something that you have worked so hard on destroyed overnight, but alas, I must remember that all was not lost.The cucumber and radishes are still doing excellent, two of the largest pepper plants had been spared, and the cluster of unidentified seeds were left untouched.Thank God.Plus, the compost pile is rapidly degrading into the sweet, black gold that will provide an abundance of nutrients for our modest endeavor.So, maybe I am being a bit overdramatic, all of my efforts were not in complete vain, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less!
Initially, I was quite a bit confused about what sort of animal/person would take to completely stripping plants down to their naked stems.I couldn’t even think of an animal that would be capable of such a feat.The only conclusion I could draw was that it must, without a shadow of a doubt, be endowed with opposable thumbs.How else could one so meticulously prune each and every leaf, flower, and stem from a two foot tall plant? But, of course, wrong again.
Lizards.Huge, spiny, scaly, multiple foot long, vegetarian lizards.Iguanas to be exact.After a brief conversation with a neighbor to the garden, we were informed that gigantic iguanas have made our plants and compost pile their make-shift reptile cafeteria.If you thought lizards lay on rocks all day, using their silly-putty tongues to seek out unknowing insects, you are dead wrong.Apparently, there are many species of vegetarian lizards, and they have an unprecedented appetite for garden-variety peppers and beans.
We phoned a local gardener to see how they deal with these cold-blooded pests.Her response, “We kill them”.Unwillingly, we were enlightened to the local practice of setting lizard traps in various locales around the garden, and either removing them and re-homing them in another location, or killing them on the spot.
Ooook, we probably won’t be doing that.Thanks for the tip though!
Luckily, google exists, and thus we are able to temporarily free ourselves from the traditions of the developing world. After a brief search, I found some information on natural “garlic spray” being a great lizard deterrent, and you can make it at home! Now, this sounds more up our alley (Omprakash Volunteer, Lacey Worel, has a recipe for garlic spray here). Today, I am going prepare the garlic spray, douse my beloved sprouts, and hope for the best. Oh developing world, you truly never know what you are going to get.