Kale, it's what's for groundhog's dinner

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This isn't the post I wanted to write today. I wanted to boast that my garden was flooded with verdant waves of kale, lettuce, kohlrabi -- all the things that revive in the garden when summer wanes into fall and then gasps at the first frosty breaths of winter. I wanted to report that the harlequin bugs finally headed out to wherever harlequin bugs go for the winter and left behind a pair of perfectly formed, ivory globes -- my first try at homegrown cauliflower. The harlequin bugs are gone, finally, yes, but I have not a single cauliflower to speak of. And that parsley that grew so slowly - from seed - over the summer? When Michael went to the garden to cut a few leaves, he found in parsley's place only a few sad-looking blank stems. Curses.

Houston, we have a problem here. A big, fat, furry, four-legged problem -- the groundhog. As if squirrels weren't enough (and they, too, are baaa-aaack), we now have a voracious groundhog that's taken up residence under the deck. It's been coming out to eat just about everything in the veggie plot (AND the neighbor's), never mind my attempts to protect a few choice items with a bit of netting. I swear, we've got the best-fed groundhog this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Could have been a cauliflower

I contacted our city's animal control department and hope they'll send someone to take Chubby off to greener pastures, or wherever groundhogs like to be when suburbanites like us aren't feeding them with our green thumbs.

On the bright side, the garlics I planted about a month ago are reaching their newborn stems to the sky, oblivious to all manner of encroaching herbivorous creatures and the first icy coughs of an awakening Old Man Winter.


Blogger Nate said...

Noooooooo! Sorry to hear it.

This is my first comment on your blog - I've been following and really like it. Sorry to hear about the critter. Best wishes for a quick recovery.



11:56 PM  
Blogger Chiot's Run said...

GRRRR, don't you just hate that. This summer I had a groundhog eat all of my sweet potato vines off as well as all my broccoli. We also have deer that are eating all of my strawberry plants. I'm thinking an electric fence will be on order for next year!

11:08 AM  
Blogger Kateri said...

That is a major bummer! At least no animal (that I know of)eats garlic.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Christa,
Glad to see you are back posting to your blog. I missed reading all the neat things you and Mike have been doing with your garden. Sorry about the critter ;-( Hope the city can help with it.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Matron said...

I do sympathize! It is one long battle here to try to grow any brassicas. They are just attacked from all sides by all comers. If it is any comfort, mine were nearly destroyed one Winter but they just grew back like nothing had happened come Spring. Don't give up on them yet.

4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it annoying? I had a similar thing happen to my kale and purple sprouting broccoli this year - only it was caterpillars. As I wanted to keep my veg organic I picked them all off, as advised in my organic gardening book. I just caught them early enough for a bit of recovery - I hope you can find a humane way to get rid of your pest.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Ed Bruske said...

Ouch. I feel your pain, Christa. I had trays full of seedlings for the fall and came back from a week's vacation to find they'd all been nibbled to stubs. Probably birds. I still haven't recovered.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see, of course, that were I in your position I would be ready to strangle the wretched groundhog with my own hands.

In fact, I'd have done it by now... and kept very quiet.

But viewed from this side of the pond, a predatory groundhog seems a wildly exotic and hopelessly romantic kind of gardening problem. I'm deeply, hypocritically envious.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great site with some wonderful photos.

6:50 AM  
Blogger ConsciousGardener said...

I started hearing the CaddyShack theme song while reading your post! Blasted groundhogs, Lock 'em up and trow away da key!

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear...thats a sad post.
What is a groundhog?
Charlotte at Great Big Veg Challenge

5:23 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Houston feels your pain.

You know, I've heard there's good eatin' on a groundhog, 'specially one that's been fattened with fresh greens...

4:07 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I just happened on this post, and have certainly shared your experience. "Our" groundhog has a special fondness for kale, too, but also radicchio, chard, etc.

I managed to relocate one last spring, but am waiting for the coming spring to nab a second one that's appeared! Chuckster is a great bait (sort of like prune butter) to lure them into a Havahart trap.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm from California so I don't think we have them here, but aren't they suppose to stay in their hole or lair or burrow or whatever and not come out until the second of next month, at which point they look for their shadow or something of this nature?
Maybe you should leave a note reminding them of this.

If that doesn't work I would contact Bill Murray because he seems to have a lot of experience with rodents.

I would also be wary of Sonny and Cher singing "I got you babe." on you alarm clock at 6:00 every morning.

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ohhh, i get title of the film, ground hog day now!!

11:58 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

you can prevent this somewhat with a container patio garden. there are some fun ideas at http://containerfarming.magazines.me/

2:59 PM  
Blogger Mama Meg said...

Hope that 2009 is treating you kindly

4:28 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

Sorry about the groundhog. When I lived in Ithaca, I had a baby groundhog living under my shed that would eat only the leaves of violets. When I got a dog, he disappeared...

GREAT blog by the way! I love that you include pictures and recipes. I'm also in the DC area and just started a blog about my garden. I hope to see more posts from you soon.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Ien in the Kootenays said...

Oh no, not burrowing critters! It is harder to defend the garden from them than from larger animals like deer. We finally got a sturdy garden fence that keeps the deer out, but that did nothing to prevent voles from destroying the carrot crop in 2007. Last year was mostly OK, I hear they are cyclical. Don't be too nice, you don't want an extended family under your porch.
Good luck with your garden in 2009!

4:05 PM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

All I can say is that I love Kale!

12:30 PM  

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