Tuesday, 10 June 2014

What to do about garden pests?

When I started the vegetable garden this year, I didn't really think I would have a huge problem with pests. I figured the resident rabbits might try to get in the beds and nibble away at the tasty goods and that squirrels and chipmunks might snack on some tomatoes later in the season...I was somewhat prepared to deal with these situations if and when they occurred. But what I was not prepared for was for this year to be the year of the CHIPMUNK.

Last year I don't recall seeing too many chipmunks in the yard, maybe the odd one here and there, cute little guys, right? This year the chipmunk population has boomed - not just in my yard, my mum who lives on the other side of town has had a constant flow of chipmunks running through her yard as well. This years chipmunks are fierce, nasty little jerks hell-bent on ruining everything in my garden.

Before there was anything planted in the raised beds, I would notice the dirt all dug up and tossed about, I naturally assumed it was the squirrels up to their tricks. Soon enough I was seeing more and more damage, and fewer squirrels. As soon as I started to plant anything (vegetables, seeds, flowers - you name it) they were being dug back up. In one case, within an hour of planting a flower I started from seed (in a peat pot) I watched from the kitchen window as a CHIPMUNK dug up the peat pot and tried to carry it away!

Obviously the vegetable garden has been a big target for the 'munks. I quickly got tired of smoothing over the soil every morning and knew that no seeds were going to survive at this rate. So I netted each bed. I got a bamboo pole in each corner, topped with a plastic cup, and strung animal netting over each bed. Using dollar store garden clips and some leftover stones and bricks, I tucked the netting down as secure as I could around the base of the beds and then covered the edges with the surrounding cedar mulch. This has been working pretty well. The plants have taken off, seeds that were left in peace have sprouted, garden life was pretty good. Little did I know the chipmunks where laying low and plotting against me.

After a week of peace, I noticed everything that was not netted was being hit extra hard, the 'munks were clearly trying to send me a message. One evening a friend brought me some of her rhubarb plants (yay!). By the time I was up the next morning to plant them, the plants were destroyed - I mean obliterated! I salvaged the root balls and planted them, fingers crossed...until this happened:

This is a chewed up piece of the rhubarb I had salvaged. All hope lost!

And it hasn't stopped there. Sunday morning, all was good in the garden. In the afternoon it rained and by dinner time when the rain slowed and I could poke my head outside I saw I site that made me sick...a 'munk had found its way in to one of the four beds and had torn up every last turnip, flattened all green onions, smothered my marigolds and had a good dig around all of the tomatoes. Why?! I had to wait until Monday to fix and re-seed the turnips. I checked every bed and secured the netting as best I could. This morning, as usual, I checked the beds to see if they survived the night only to discover a violent little 'munk trying to get in to one of the beds! It was thrashing around, so much that I thought it was stuck in the netting, then I realized it was throwing a full-blown chipmunk tantrum because it couldn't get in! It then proceeded to knock over the remaining tomato plants I had on the deck and further chew up the remaining rhubarb stumps. It has been back to taunt me through the day. I am going to lose my mind.

Cute as they are, they are nasty little buggers. I have whipped up a batch of pepper spray, hoping that will deter the little devils. I have also scattered blood meal around the beds. As well as the vegetables are growing now, I feel the threat of terrorist chipmunks is only going to grow and that this year, my battle will not be getting my plants to grow as much as it will be protecting my plants from the dreaded chipmunk.

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