LINCOLN SQUARE — It's bare-legged season in Chicago, but my corn is sporting nylon stockings.
Since when is there a dress code for produce, you ask?
There's not, obviously. It's just the latest in a long line of increasingly desperate ploys to end the growing season with one edible ear to show for four months of effort.
Growing corn is hard.
Scratch that. Growing corn is easy: Plant seed, add water and leave the heavy lifting to Mother Nature. In 2016, U.S. farmers harvested a combined 15 billion bushels (that's spitting distance of a trillion ears) of corn. Because they're pros.
But for amateurs? Good luck warding off predatory critters — birds, squirrels, rats, flying humanoids — long enough for a single ear to reach a ripened age.
Two summers in a row my corn crops were wiped out by marauders who left behind a scene of carnage in their wake — ears torn from their stalks, husks shredded, silks littering the ground.
2017 would be different, I vowed.
I have, on the advice of many an old wives' tale, enclosed my half-dozen stalks in a veritable corn fortress: a border of stakes, swathed in bird netting, rocks piled at the base, and aluminum pie plates dangling as noisemakers. My plot looks like the Sanford & Sons Circus came to town.
And still some demonic creature penetrated these defenses — without creating a discernible breach — severing an ear from its stalk and dismembering the cob, while leaving most of the kernels insultingly intact. It had all the markings of a mob hit. Or ninjas.
So now my handful of remaining semi-viable ears are wearing pantyhose. Someone told me they heard of a gardener up in Rogers Park who had success with this tactic and it's no loonier a straw to grasp at than the folks who are staving off wildlife with fox pee and shards of Irish Spring.
Here's the thing: I had to cut through the bird netting with scissors in order to cover the ears with their stocking caps. How, how, how did an animal manage a raid?
I closed up my slits with duct tape, which didn't stick to the netting, so I sutured the gaps with twist ties in case I need to reopen the wound.
I'm thinking of adding heels. They're not called stilettos for nothing.
Corn fortress. [All photos DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]
Rock pile at the base, to prevent critters from crawling under the netting.
Meanwhile, vulnerable kale goes unmolested. Understandably.
Tomato forest abuts corn fortress. Critters aren't biting.
Beneath the pantyhose, here's what we're fighting for.