On Memorial Day weekend, we had high hopes for the summer. Cindy, our rescue's owner, spent four hours in the blazing sun on May 29 to put 350 plants in what she'd dubbed the "piggie veggie garden." Assuming that the plants all made it, Cindy was
expecting a huge crop of parsley, kale, red and green peppers,
tomatoes, celery and leaves, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, red
cabbage, eggplant, and lettuce. The $70 investment in all the plants
was expected to save the rescue several hundred dollars at the grocery
store this summer.
Fearing that the woodchuck that lived in the pile of wood on the back of Cindy's property might try to raid the garden again this year, Cindy and her husband put extra fencing two feet deep into the ground around part of the garden's perimeter, the part that the woodchuck seemed to repeatedly come in through. The thought (hope, really) was that the woodchuck wouldn't be able to tunnel under the fence -- or would at least just give up once he (or she) realized how far underground he'd have to dig his tunnel into the garden.
This past Friday, Cindy came home to discover that the piggie veggie garden was slowly being destroyed by the woodchuck. She was expecting to spend this Sunday -- in the muggy heat -- digging around the rest of the garden and burying more fence two feet deep into the ground. Even for a gardening fanatic, this was going to be a daunting task.
After spending today at a very productive open house at Advanced Veterinary Care in Farmington, Cindy headed out to her garden to start doing some digging for the new fence. She discovered that the woodchuck destroyed most of the garden -- clearly taking advantage of the fact that Cindy hadn't been home and the dogs had been inside all day.
Every lettuce, kale, red cabbage, pepper, cauliflower, eggplant, and broccoli plant was gone -- eaten right down to the soil's surface. The only thing that this greedy groundhog didn't eat was the parsley, celery, cucumber, and tomato plants. It's possible he (or she) may have brought some friends along for a nice Saturday picnic, which would explain how the garden could be so devastated in less than 24 hours. Either that, or one greedy groundhog has a really fat, bloated belly tonight.
So it's going to be an expensive summer at the grocery store, despite our best efforts. It wasn't just the $70 worth of plants that Greedy Gus (or Greedy Gwen) pigged down today, but it was the loss of all the income the output of those plants would have saved later and the loss of the hours spent planting and watering the garden. Cindy is already thinking of how she may have to set up the garden next year. The only other option, she says, is to set a have-a-heart trap, catch the woodchuck, and relocate him/her. But she hates to do that. One, she says, s/he has a right to live in familiar territory. Two, if it's a female woodchuck and she still has babies that haven't matured enough to venture out on their own, relocating mom would essentially "orphan" them. So, more fencing it will have to be.
For anyone who planted vegetable gardens this spring, if your garden is still intact, build a fortress around it while you still can. Or else you, too, will see your garden laid waste!
And if anyone has any humane and environmentally friendly suggestions for dealing with the woodchuck next year, please use the Comments link below to let us know!