Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Varmints



I am coming to the conclusion I got really lucky with my vegetable garden last year. I didn't know how lucky until things started to go wrong this year. Last year the goddess of gardening smiled down on me. But this year - this is the year of the varmints.

The first problems were with the peas. I planted snow, snap and shelling peas two weeks ago, reminiscing about how lovely the peas were last year, and how easy to grow they seemed to be. I did remember, as I coated the peas in inoculant and planted them in neat little rows, that our neighbour had some problems last year with birds or mice eating his peas before they could sprout. But not me. No ma'am.

I should have known better. Because the next morning I went out to admire my freshly planted bed and saw rows and rows of neat little holes drilled into the soil exactly where my peas had briefly been. They didn't even make it through a single night.

I waited until today, to see whether any escaped the notice of the scavenging creatures, but only two pretty little sprouts have appeared, out of about 200 that were planted. Time to plant again. Only this time, as soon as I was done, the entire bed got swaddled in a floating row cover, anchored all around the perimeter with rocks. No birds or mice are getting in this time. I hope.

I've had new problems in the greenhouse, too. Damping off, which I didn't have any trouble with last year. For those of you who haven't grown vegetables, that's when perfectly healthy seedlings suddenly keel over like they've been cut off at ground level. It's due to a naturally occurring fungus in the soil, which is why many gardeners (including me, now) use sterilized starting mix rather than homemade mix using soil from the garden. And something ate many of my lettuce and chard seedlings. Some were nibbled. Some had completely disappeared. I am not amused.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Oh man- I am still struggling with the weather, and haven't even gotten as far as varmints yet.

The copper mesh I put up against the slugs appears to be doing its job well.

I have a couple of Cat Stop units that I'll put up outside the two gates just as soon as our contractor finishes the pergola and fence repair. They're also supposed to work on raccoons. I haven't seen the skunk yet, but I'm not real sure what to do about her anyway. This weekend is a free clean up day with the trash hauler, so the pile of rotten fence boards the previous owner left in the back of the yard is going. Both times I saw the skunk, she seemed to just sort of appear from that direction, so I hope that she doesn't have a den under there. She needs to be gone before I get bees, though, for sure.

Honestly? I'm thinking about getting an air rifle. My mom had a story about my grandfather during the war when he had a Victory garden in southern California. Seems she was on her way to the kitchen and had to pass through the living room, and there was my grandfather on one knee on the couch, aiming his .22 out the living room window at a rabbit in his garden!

I'd do the same thing, if I had a .22! And I hate raccoons enough to shoot one without hesitation. I once threw a hammer at one because that's all I had on me.

Sorry about your peas. Fiona over at The Cottage Smallholder (http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/) had the very same problem- mice and peas- but I don't remember what she did about it. You might do a search over there.

Varmints ain't funny.

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