Archive for April 8th, 2011

April 8, 2011

Plant it and they will come!

About 1:00am yesterday, I awoke to the sound of our dog barking her “protective bark” at the bedroom window.   This continued about every hour through the night until shortly before my alarm went off.

Turns out a couple of the neighbors were sitting on the roof outside the bedroom window and wouldn’t leave no matter how much the dog barked at them.  (Since we live near a nature center, our neighbors happen to be raccoons.)  Ah yes, spring.  The raccoons are back… with all of their friends close behind.

Even though I haven’t planted the garden yet this year, it reminded me that when you have a garden, you will have critters.  How you choose to deal with them is up to you.  I pick my battles.

Every year I plant a veggie garden.  My veggie garden has a gate and fencing around it. These are the plants I really don’t want critters touching.

I also have grape vines, apple and pear trees, blueberry shrubs, hardy kiwi vines, red raspberries, golden raspberries and blackberries.  None of these have fencing or gates.  They do get winter protection from rabbits and mice to prevent killing them, but during the growing season the produce is up for grabs, human and animal alike. Why? A few reasons. First, they are all essentially perennials, (not literally) they’ll keep coming back and producing more and more fruit as they age (in other words less work, more reward).  Second, over time there will be plenty to go around for everyone.  Third, these serve as a deterrent from my veggie garden.

I could build a fortress around everything, but in my mind, sharing with wild life is a part of gardening.  Plus, it’s far more stressful to try to keep them out than to just plan on sharing at least part of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t offer everything up to the critter buffet.  I will try to deter them, I just don’t expect them to leave completely.

As far as deterrents go, I’ve found Fox Urine Powder to be pretty effective for rabbits.  Just sprinkle it around the plants (not on them like many other sprays, etc.).  It only needs to be re-applied periodically or after a heavy rainfall.  Note – only rabbits can smell this, not humans.

The key to sharing with critters is not to get too attached to your plants!  Attachment is a guarantee that something will go awry.  A couple of years ago, we planted a couple of pear trees.  Last year, to my surprise, they budded, bloomed and even produced fruit – a LOT of fruit for such young trees.  Literally at least 100 little pears.  The branches were so full they were nearly touching the ground.  They still had to mature, but I could practically taste them.  I was already making desserts, salads, you name it, in my head.  Days later we had some wind and as always, squirrels.  Well, long story short, by the time they were ripe… we had 3 pears.

So, don’t be surprised when the critters come back from their winter vacation and want to dine on your newly planted garden. Just remember, whether you noticed them or not, they were here before us or our garden.  It’s our choice to plant the garden in a space that they inhabit.   Just have a plan in place as to how you are going to handle them.  Don’t hurt them and don’t drive yourself crazy.  Unless you’re the Pied Piper, they’re always going to be around.  Its our job to figure out how to live in harmony with them.

Take care,