I recently was reading some old blogs and I realized that groundhogs have consistently been the primary bane of my gardening existence. Most years they have caused serious container garden carnage and some years have devastated entire crops. Also, in reading these blogs I have come to the conclusion that summer vacation is often when disaster strikes.
I also realized that some of the stories were pretty funny, so I thought I would put them all in one place so people could commiserate, laugh, cry or do all three at the same time - groundhogs can bring out some extreme emotion in many gardeners.
Furry Delinquent - June 2008
I just came home from a five-day vacation. I had planned to come home and write about the many baskets of flowering nasturtiums I had grown from seed. No such luck. Almost all were mowed down by our local critter - a woodchuck with no mercy.
This beast is as big as a Hummer and looks like a fat, escapee from juvenile hall - he's got attitude to spare. I can’t tell you how many times I have come out my door to see his fat bottom, waddling at warp speed out of my garden into the woods, something green and tender hanging from the side of his mouth.
I guess I’ll just have to breathe deeply and plant more nasturtiums. I’ll let you know how the next batch goes.
Pea Disaster - July 2008
I just got back from a canoe trip down the Allagash River, in Northern Maine. At first glance, I was very pleased at the state of my container gardens, that is until I saw my peas.
I was so looking forward to coming home to a bumper crop of English peas and sugar snaps. Well, no such luck. My larcenous woodchuck had struck again – eating almost everything - just when it was perfectly ripe and juicy.
I can just picture him rubbing his little paws together in anticipation as we packed. He must have given a shimmy of delight as Henry, our big dog, jumped in the car and we drove away.
It really looks like the vermin took a seat right in the middle of my containers, then pillaged. I can’t get the image of him, sitting back on his big fat rump, smoking a cigar and sipping a martini while ravaging my peas. At least thinking of this is making me laugh instead of cry.
Container Garden Criminal - August 2008
Well I never expected to catch the thief red-handed. Almost as soon as finished my last blog about the martini- swilling, cigar-smoking critter, I went outside to deal with my pea disaster.
I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw two shiny eyes peering out from between my containers. There he was, the furry thief - he even had a piece of pea plant stuck to his whiskers. The nerve!
This juvenile delinquent, smaller than his Hummer-sized parents, was too young and too scared to turn around and flee through the exit behind him. Like a kid caught stealing candy, he seemed to be pretending he just wasn’t there – crouched down, frozen in place.
That is until Henry, my big dog, finally showed up. Who knew woodchucks could fly! He rocketed off the deck and charged under my back steps where I believe he lives, plotting his next crime spree.
Critter Hit Man - May 2009
I made the mistake of taking my dog out to dinner. Well, not exactly out to dinner, but I took pity on the poor hound and loaded him up into the car where he stayed while we went out to dinner. Big mistake. When I got home I found my container gardens decimated.
My nemesis, a groundhog, mowed down two Clementine boxes full of beautiful pansies. He moved on to my lettuce, eating it all, and then attacked a recycled grocery bag full of tender sweet peas that I had nurtured from seed and were almost ready to photograph.
When I saw all the damage, I tried not to cry and to be zen about the whole thing because I know only too well that death and carnage are a significant part of any gardening adventure. But when my husband looked at me with a cocked eyebrow and said, "I know a guy, who knows a guy who could take care of this problem for you," I briefly considered hiring the critter hit man he was referring to. Then I came back to my senses.
I loathe and despise my tribe of critters and I will try to save as much greenery as I can from them with fencing and the help of Henry, my dog. But I also have a grudging respect for the fact that the groundhogs have been on this land a lot longer than I have.
I am keeping the phone number of that critter hit man close by - I just know I'll never use it.
Container Garden Fear and Loathing - Feb 2010
I can't believe that groundhogs have been given their own day! I fear that it may be considered un-American to loathe Punxsutawney Phil and all of his kind, but I do. Last summer the groundhog pictured here, laid waste to my peas and several other delectable container gardens.
His big fat mama and papa, also in residence, could be regularly seen thumbing their noses at Henry, my very large dog, and then speed-waddling across my lawn, trailing something I had carefully tended.
I'm already getting worked up about how I'm going to foil their rapacious designs on my tender shoots this spring. Would it be too radical to electrify my entire back deck? Do you think my family would mind an occasional zap if it would keep our sugar snaps from harm?