Saturday, August 1, 2009

2 woodchuck-free weeks and then...

Tuesday marked two weeks without woodchucks in our garden, following a 3-day weekend vacation (3 weeks ago) when disaster hit: the lettuce and carrots were chewed to the ground, and no baby beans survived. Fred and I decided to take drastic action, and we were rewarded with abundant lettuce salads after the plants recuperated. The carrot tops grew back and look lush still; I must thin and mulch them again as soon as I get my hands on some fresh grass clipping.

Our drastic action was using inter-species communication to say, "This garden is human territory!" I kept a bedpan in the downstairs bathroom, and Fred used more direct action. This method of pest prevention is easier for men than women, but we both worked at it conscientiously. Several of you had advocated coyote or fox urine. I tried that years ago, but it is expensive and lasts only until the next rain. Our method is cheaper, and renewable after each rain.

Then Wednesday the rains struck. Two tomato cages were knocked over, and the remnant of a significant tomato was on the ground. We kept at it, as we had before, and the lettuce and carrots continue to thrive.

But last night we had another strong rain, and another cage was knocked over. Several tomatoes were on the ground. Even more interesting, one tomato with only a small part missing (where a jaw might have carried it) was just outside the woodchuck hole under the garage, as if woodchucks (like me) think of the future when they contemplate tomatoes. Since it was almost whole, I wondered if it would ripen indoors. I measured it -- six inches across! (Burpee's Supersteak Hybrid) It may or may not ripen on my counter, but the woodchuck's plans are thwarted. I would use it only for long-cooked sauce, of course, but that adds significantly to human pleasure.

A garden always provides many questions (like most of life). I wonder if the rains washed away our deterrent, or whether we just didn't use it close enough to the tomato plants. If the latter, a remedy will be soon applied.

Meanwhile, we continue to enjoy our lettuce salads and to coddle hope for winter carrots. I haven't been told of any other family trying our approach to woodchuck avoidance before. It's inconvenient, but one can get used to it. By Tuesday I was thinking of that old Pennsylvania Dutch saying that my mother's family liked to quote, "Ve grow too soon alt, and too late schmart."


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