In the early spring, I sow seeds with hope, envisioning platters of ruby tomatoes, shelves of crunchy and tart pickles, and fresh lettuce for months. Some time after the first little sprouts lift their head from the soil, disaster strikes. Last year, a glutenous rabbit engorged itself on my pea shoots. I was crushed, threatening to eat the bunny that ate my poor little plants. Before I could find the critter, my peas revived themselves, providing me with handfuls of sugar snap peas. This year, I will not be eating as many peas — a storm shook down the tender vines from their trellis and breaking their stalks.
Our plants have suffered from more than just foul weather. An army of ants is methodically girdling my broccoli stems, stripping away parts of the stem to feed to their aphids. Ants raise aphids as we raise cattle, they feed them with tender leaves and then eat their fattened livestock.
To save my broccoli, I filled several tubs with natural ant killer. Within hours, the traps were filled with eager ants and I thought my insect problem was ended until two days ago when my traps disappeared. The ants have returned in mass. I will make new traps soon and scatter the soil around my plants with garlic and mint leaves, which might repel these insects.
Saturday, a groundhog dug a tunnel under our fence and helped himself to my beet leaves. I noticed bites on some of the beets that morning and considered spraying them with a mixture of water and Tabasco sauce. (Apparently deer, rabbits and groundhogs will only eat mild salsa and never patronize Chi-Chis.) I decided to wait until after lunch, but when I returned, the remaining beet leaves were stripped and only their maroon stalks remained. While this injured my beets, I expect to enjoy these plants later — if the groundhog does not return for seconds (or thirds).
I though groundhogs were the worst possible garden pest until this morning.
What can you do with a snapping turtle who wants to pick a few daisies?