at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Garden Wars: Identifying the Culprits

Somebody keeps eating my corn; I don't
think I'll be getting any this year..
It's happening again. Someone is snacking in my garden. Snacking on tender green shoots that should be growing into corn, beans and sunflowers; snacking on the tops of carrots; snacking on peas; and even snacking on a potato plant. I've been on a mission to figure out 1) who has been creeping around my garden and 2) how to keep them out!  Last year, the deer completely ravaged my garden. As if the drought weren't bad enough, most of what would have otherwise survived was consumed by the deer.  I've had a plan in place should they come back, and I keep checking for hoof prints in the garden, but have yet to find any.

At first I thought I might just have a chipmunk problem.  I have read that they like to munch on the tender green shoots of baby plants, and I know that they love sunflower seeds (and I'm pretty sure they are the ones who ate all of my sunflower shoots a couple years ago).  There is at least one chipmunk who lives under our deck, adjacent to my vegetable garden.  I've seen him dart across, so I know he's not afraid to go in there.  I still suspect that he had a tunnel right underneath my row of snow peas and ate them all as they sprouted (since NONE of them grew).  

Baby bunny hiding in my flower garden

Then, I spotted somebody else: a baby bunny.  Very cute, but the most likely culprit in the "where did my strawberries go?" mystery.  I saw him just outside my perennial garden, and scared him so that he hopped right into the thick of the plants, trying to hide.  I've seen him around a few more times, and I've seen a full grown bunny on the edge of my neighbor's yard.  Now, the strawberries are not protected by a fence, but the vegetables are.  I don't think the baby bunny could possibly fit between the holes in the fence, and I know the big bunny can't.  However, I do believe they are the ones who are chewing on my sugar pea stalks that they can reach from the outside of the garden and killing the few plants I actually have.  *Note to self: keep peas in the center of the garden from now on.  Also, there's a possibility that the baby bunny could fit through the chipmunk's hole underneath the deck.

Finally, I think I found my evidence of deer.  Firstly, I noticed that some of the plants that were chewed on were too high off the ground to be reached by a chipmunk -- or anything else that's small enough to fit through the holes in the fence. I also noticed some damage outside of my garden -- on the other side of the deck, underneath our bird feeders.  I have sunflowers growing all over the place from dropped bird seed, and there was a very large one growing just under one of the feeders.  The top was recently chewed off.  This is a couple feet off the ground.  I also noticed that one of my hostas had been trampled.  While I still have yet to see any deer tracks in the dirt (perhaps it's just too hard packed right now?), I'm pretty certain they are back. I don't know who else could do this kind of damage.

So, here's my plan of attack: I fashioned some "netting" out of tulle fabric that I can drape over my plants at night to hopefully protect them from the deer.  I also bought some deer scram -- an organic, granular spread that is supposed to repel deer.  The liquid fence didn't work last year, so I wanted to try something new.  Also on the list to try: dried coyote urine.  Gross, I know.  But I want my tomatoes and beans this year, and I will try desperately to defend my vegetable plants against those who would destroy them!  I also want to get one of those "game spy" cameras that hunters use so I can capture pictures or video evidence of my thieves -- just to be sure who is there and what they are going after! 

So much for being a deterrent... Looks
more like a snack!

Side note: I have heard that critters don't like marigolds and that they can work as a deterrent. I planted some along my pathway between my gardens (and between my extra tomato plants) as an extra measure.  But, um, somebody has been eating my marigolds! So much for that theory...

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!