When it comes to gardens, the critters win again

Tomatoes from another year

Tomatoes from another year

A few years back I wrote a post about my tomatoes. The critters were eating them first. After I put in a dog pen I was able to enjoy a garden. Then this year happened. If you read my post on Sunday you know that a groundhog scaled my 6 foot fence and had dinner.

What follows chronicles my trials and tribulations in growing my own! This was from 2012 when I thought I had the answer. Now I don’t know.

My mother always had a garden. She grew string beans, peppers, corn, herbs, other vegetables and…..drum roll please…tomatoes. If you never had a tomato right from the plant, you haven’t had a good one. No problem with groundhogs at all.

You can’t refrigerate tomatoes. It kills the flavor and all grocery stores refrigerate them to extend selling time. They also pick them under ripe.

Years ago you could go to a farm market during the summer and get wonderful tomatoes. Those little farm stands grew bigger and put in refrigeration. Bummer.

I planted a garden just like Mom’s. I have been doing this for years but eight years ago (13 now) I moved to the current house about a half mile from a protected wildlife preserve.

I thought living there would be cool and it was the first time I saw a herd of deer in my yard. Then the wild turkeys came in to visit (still cool).

The mallard ducks tried to make out (yes, hook up) in my pond (still cool).

There are always the rabbits and groundhogs which are everywhere along with raccoon, fox, opossum and other critters doing things I won’t post here. I have learned a lot about sex. Frogs have the best stamina. Take my word for it.

My first garden didn’t stand a chance so I surrounded it with a four-foot chicken wire fence. The deer could stick their heads over it and the groundhogs didn’t have any problems either.

Then there was the six-foot fence with plastic deer netting. I thought that would be easy to handle. There was no door so I had to untie a section every time I wanted to go in. Sigh.

I tried all kinds of wildlife repellent. Some smelled like rotten eggs and some were little soaps. Nothing worked long-term. The groundhog even climbed my peach trees to have dessert.

The ever patient beloved husband took me to a fencing place where they quoted us $2,500 to put in a 10 foot by 10 foot by 6 foot high chain link fence with a people door. Yikes. Assuming I could get 25 pounds of tomatoes out of the garden, that’s $100 a pound.

Then I had a brainstorm. (The beloved husband hates brainstorms. They are expensive and always mean work for him.)

I saw a dog kennel with a people door. I bought one with the same dimensions for $250 and it was just as sturdy except it wasn’t cemented in the ground. We had to install landscaping timbers to mount it and good soil to amend the existing clay. We bought landscaping plants so it didn’t look gross from the street.

All told I brought the cost of the tomatoes down to $25 per pound. I think that’s a bargain! Amortized over time, it’s almost nothing. This is a memory from my childhood! There is no price tag on that.

It worked for years. A genius groundhog has now figured out how to climb it to get to the finest dining in the neighborhood.

As for the beloved husband….he’s still shaking his head.

Maybe we need a dog patrol.

 

41 thoughts on “When it comes to gardens, the critters win again

  1. Pingback: Random 5 for July 3rd – Inspiration, hearing, elections, attitude, birthdays | Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

    • I hear you. Last year we fenced the upper yard in because the deer were in the pond. That keeps the big animals out but not the groundhogs, etc. The lower part where the garden is has been open and because it’s more secluded gets a lot of animal activity. My only solution to this one is to line the existing chain line fence with chicken wire and run it across the top like a roof. I’m getting old and tired. Maybe I’ll just buy my tomatoes.

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  2. AND It only takes one genius to teach the others.

    I watch a garden show on youtube and his solution is the to feed the pests. And do it on the opposite side of the yard as your garden. Animals go for the easy food. So if you have a barrier on the garden AND a buffet on the opposite side of the yard…

    Cheap bird seed with easy access and they just stopped invading his garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry about that groundhog Kate! We are just now getting cherry tomatoes from our teeny garden. They are awesome and so far noBODY but us knows about them… 🙂 We only got one strawberry back in spring… someBODY knew about them.

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  4. You are a patient, determined, hard-working gardener. Wow!

    I grew tomatoes once. They didn’t get enough sun. I had to ripen them in the window. But when we moved to Vanuatu, my husband decided to go all out on gardening. He planted a huge garden. The weather is perfect all year long, so it worked really well. He planted a whole row of cherry tomatoes in the flowerbed next to the house. Anytime I wanted a tomato, I went outside and ate one. They were as sweet as candy. I’ve never tasted anything as good before or since.

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    • Sounds perfect. Once you’ve had the home grown variety, nothing else tastes the same. That’s true of corn too although we have a local “corn shed” place that sells it within hours to being picked. Yum! This is the first week they have it available.

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  5. I’ve given up on veg gardening. Too much work. It is all I can do to keep grass and weeds out of the flowers and shrubs. I was out this morning pulling grass. I’m try to figure out now what I can dig up and replace with mulch. Mo is a city kid and has no interest in a garden or anything else outside. It is too hot outside here in summer.

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  6. Maybe it is time for the “patio plant?” Even at this late date, you might be able to get some. (Schantz or Lowe’s)…I am happy with mine. Then at least you would have some fresh ones for your table.

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    • I also have 2 patio plants. (This is a testing year for them.) There have been some nips on those too. The groundhogs aren’t all that fond of tomato plants. They just do that to annoy me.

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  7. Ray would be very good at that. We could start a “Rent -A-Ray” service? Of course he eats pretty much anything and loves veggies so there could be a few issues, but he would keep out the wildlife. 🙂

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  8. OMG, a little terrier would have a field day guarding your garden. Then, of course, he would dig it up to get to the groundhog.

    Maybe you need decoy garden. One that’s easy to get to, where you throw some seeds in the ground and do some pretend fencing. Then the real garden will go unmolested. 🙂

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    • Yep, with my luck a dog would dig up the plants and poop on them. I had a terrier (or a terror as we called him) when I was a child. He had all the bad things they say about Jack Russels but he could sure dig.

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