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I know you’ve all been hanging on the edge of your seats to discover how the war with my mystery garden nemesis pans out. We spent all last week bringing the strawberry box inside until we could find the time and energy to tackle the problem in a more permanent way. My friend Dave’s suggestion in the comments was that we take care of it by means of a BB gun and hunting blind, but we don’t have space for a hunting blind on our balcony. Of course, we don’t believe in capital punishment just for eating our delicious strawberries, although I started to reconsider this stance when I sustained a spider bite bringing the box in one night. It was my second spider bite already this summer and it still itches, almost a week later.

Yesterday, we finally had the time to deal with it. We got out the bird netting and bamboo sticks left over from when we made a protective cage around our 2’x6′ garden box last year (this is not our first time tangling with thieving neighbourhood critters) and some cotton string and made a strawberry cage.

Strawberry cage

We were able to leave the strawberries outside all night last night and not a single bite or pilfered berry. Although we haven’t been brining the onions in at night, they have also gone unmolested.

Now that that’s fixed, I just need to wait for this spider bite to heal.

We hadn’t planned to grow strawberries this year. I’ve tried planting strawberries for several years and never had much luck. At best, I’ve gotten one or two small berries off the whole crop, so when we made up our garden plan back in February, strawberries weren’t even on the list. Nonetheless, back in April I was walking down the main street in my neighbourhood and I noticed that our local green grocer had strawberry plants for sale. They looked healthy and already had several blossoms. Something just clicked; the strawberries seemed to say, “This is the year”.

I bought 6 plants on a whim and planted them in one of the railing boxes on our balcony, the only plants out there at the time. The very next day, we had a hail storm that stripped the plants of most of their leaves and all of the petals. Stems were broken, and I worried that the plants might die just as they were getting settled. I wathced them every day, allowing the broken branches to stay on the plants as long as possible in the hopes that they were still getting some photosynthesi,s and dead heading them as each one finally died. But through it all sprouts of new growth began peeking up from the centre of the plants, and several weeks later they were all stronger and healthier than when I bought them, with nice big strawberries.

But it looks like something still doesn’t want me to have a strawberry crop. Two days ago, when I went out to check on the plants as I do every morning, I found a still-green strawberry with a big bite out of it, and another laying on the soil.  Two holes had also been dug in one of the railing boxes containing onions, but the onions themselves were undistrubed. Yesterday, I found the two largest berries on the soil with bites out of them. I don’t know if I have a squirrel (because of the holes in the onion patch) or birds, or a combination of both, but something must be done.

Half eaten strawberries

Two strawberries with bites taken out of them

We’re trying to devise some way of securing bird netting around them, but for now we’re just taking the whole planter in every night, since whatever is doing this seems to be nocturnal.

I’ve got the edits back from the publisher, so the book is in its final stages.  Even though I know it’s the normal practice, it’s seemed strange to me that people have already paid money for my book, when it’s not even finished yet.  I have to go through the edits (highlighted for me thanks to a computer program called Track Changes), approve or reject them as needed and send it back.  The editor only did copy editing rather than the substantial edit I’d been expecting, so I’m doing a bit more revision on my own; hopefully there won’t be too much back and forth before the final draft gets confirmed and typeset for printing.  We’d like to get review copies printed in time for the Book Expos, at least the one here in Toronto if not the American one.

Suman and I met up yesterday to talk marketing.  The publishing house will be sending out review copies, but that’s about all we’ll get in terms of promotion.  We’re still hoping to do a launch somehow, we need to figure out how much it will cost.  We also talked about making little promotional items tied to the book, like fridge magnet measurement conversion charts and bookmarks, as well as local grocers and butcher shops to approach about carrying the book or having us for signings.  My local butcher has been excited for the book since the first and asks me whenever I go there to buy chicken breasts or ground beef when it’s coming out.  He definitely wants us for a signing, too.  For some reason, signings are what I’m really excited for.  I’ve been to quite a few signings of my favourite authors, and having a signing of my own feels like “making it” for me.  Of course, I know I’ll likely get tired of them quickly, but for now I can still look ahead with anticipation.  Does anyone have any brilliant marketing suggestions for the book?  Since we have a budget of $0, it has to be things we can do relatively inexpensively, or are at least worth the money spent.

I had lunch with my friend Rita at the Gladstone.  She copy edited the manuscript before we sent it to the publisher and she’s helping me work on the index. In Kurt Vonegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle one of his characters, a professional indexer, says that an author should never index their own book because it tells too much about the author’s personal feelings and obsessions. I think that an author should never index their own work, because it’s hard to be objective and make decisions about what index worthy.  But on the other hand, I’m glad I’m doing it myself because I’m kind of anal about indexing and cataloguing and I don’t think I would really trust anyone else to do it.  🙂

Rita and I also did a gardening swap.  I gave her a bag of my homemade compost and she gave me seeds for sunflowers, muskmelons, spinach.  Every warm day is 1 day closer to gardening!

What I’m reading

Dance of Dragons by George R.R. Martin

What I’m playing

Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning on PS3

What I’m knitting

Socks

Chirp, chirp

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