veggie lovers wreck havoc on gardens
Our garden enemies are sneaky and tenacious, focused on a single goal; to eat and store as much of our fresh produce as possible.They will climb inconceivable obstacles to achieve their goal.,
Remember all those animal tales and fables about the battle between the farmer and cute little characters such as Peter Rabbit? Well they are not so adorable in reality. In fact these local herbivores are a menace that threaten to strip country gardens bare if left unchecked.
For example, it was a mystery when our carrots kept disappearing one year at an alarming rate. Every morning there were a few neat, long holes left in the clay soil where our carrots had been. They were disappearing without a trace. Slowly a long worn down pathway appeared that ran from our back vegetable patch, over the front yard, across the road, through the neighbour’s property, down the hill and right to the bank of the creek.This long trail was becoming more trampled down each night. My husband and elderly neighbour finally solved the mystery.
The creek had flooded a few weeks before and probably washed out the resident muskrat’s buried winter supplies.
This particular muskrat was replenishing his storehouse with our carrots. Since he was intent on stealing the entire crop, we quickly pulled the carrots, leaving enough for his entire family, even though they would have stayed fresher in the ground. The muskrats were never as desperate again but countless other creatures treated our garden as an open, free smorgasbord of tasty delights, raised especially for their gourmet taste buds.
Groundhogs are voracious eaters for their size. They can devour an entire zucchini plant, vines, leaves and vegetables before we can get out of bed.( The operative word in their name is ‘hog’.) Our war plan against these fat little hogs was to assign the early risers to patrol!The kids made a real game out of this spying mission. They would tiptoe through the house, peer out the windows , tip-toe back to shake Michael awake, while one of the older kids would silently raise one of the windows and prop it open in preparation for Dad’s gun.
(Wild pest lovers, read no further, please!!!) Michael shot thirty-one obese groundhogs one year. After a fifteen year battle, the groundhog population seemed to decline. A trapper told us that a fisher (a fierce predator) had move in across the road and now we hardly ever see a groundhog.
We encourage our wonderful guard dog to keep the next group of veggie lovers, raccoons and deer, far away from our food supply. I admitt that deer can usually snack on apples at night from the apple trees that are at the far end of our acreage without alerting the dog, the raccoons can’t resist corn near the house. Raccoons are not subtle.They rip and tear their way through a patch of corn, bringing six-foot corn stalks down. They make a terrible sound as well, a cross between a cat screeching and a baby crying. Needless to say, this racket wakes up our dog , who in turn wakes up the entire household while he is still inside. Outside, he is the guard dog who manages to keep his distance while maintaining a tough stance.
A couple of years ago, black bears were a problem. When one such bear found our sweet corn, he was so happy, he rolled around, flattening a huge area before he settled down to eat the prized corn-cob. I don’t have to tell you that we left that massive vegetable lover alone. The dumb dog could smell the bear while he was in the house and he wouldn’t stop barking but he did not have a clue what he would be facing if we had let him out. Needless to say we loved our dog more than the corn, so he stayed inside.
In contrast to the huge black bear, mice and chipmunks might be little but a little nibble out of a tomato or a strawberry will rot the fruit. Granted, our cats do their best to keep the mice population down but the half-rotted vegetables taste like fine dining to the pigs so at least all the spoiled food doesn’t go to waste.
We finally realized that the secret to this War of the Vegetables is to plant almost twice as many vegetables as we need.
We plant 75 foot rows of veggies.
Some for us
Some for the vegetable lovers
Some for our farm animals (who also like weeds, thank God)
Some to either barter with or give away to our generous friends and relatives.
The moral of this tale? There is more than one way to win a war.