Monday, August 13, 2007

Learn From My Mistakes - Don't Let This Happen to Your Garden!

We live out in the country, which is really great. With a country setting comes lots of animals; hungry animals. We see many raccoons, foxes, opossums, and deer. This winter we went walking in the woods behind the garden and was amazed at all of the animal tracks we saw in the snow.

It looked like all the different animals got together and had a party.

So even though I know that there are so many animals surrounding my garden, I foolishly wrote this in a post just four days ago:

"For the most part I have been lucky over the years to not have much of a problem with pests in the garden. I have an occasional loss to a deer or some other animal and I have a few minor bouts with insects. None of the pests really make much of a difference in the overall outcome of the harvest."

What was I thinking? Writing that was my first mistake. My second mistake was spending all day Friday cleaning up the garden. I weeded and used the weed-eater on all of the tall grass around all of the raised beds. I watered everything thoroughly. The whole vegetable garden looked better than it has all season. My third mistake was deciding not to pick all of those almost ripe heirloom tomatoes. "I can get them in a day or two", I said to myself. "Besides, I want to get some pictures of them still on the vine since they look so good now", I added to put the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

I'm sure by now you know where this is going. I didn't visit the garden Sunday morning and then we were gone all day. Last night just before dark, I walked up to the garden to admire my work.


To my horror and amazement, the entire vegetable garden had been attacked! The animals that got together for the party in the snow must have had another party. This time it was an all-you-can-eat buffet! All of those almost-ripe heirlooms, - gone. All of the leaves on the sweet potatoes - gone. Many of the cantaloupe - done for. Half of the bean plants - almost bare. Many of the cucumber leaves - eaten as well.

This was the single worst attack my garden had ever seen. Here are some painful pictures of the carnage:

They took a bite out of six cantaloupe and completely ate the ripest two. Everywhere I looked there were half eaten tomatoes lying on the ground.

Many of the green bean plants lost most of their leaves:

And the most painful of all is what they did to my sweet potatoes. This was the first year I have tried growing them. I only planted one 4'x4' bed.

This is what the sweet potato bed looked like last week:

And this is what it looks like now:

I don't know much about sweet potatoes, but I would guess that this spells doom for this year's crop.

So what does one do when your garden is so severely attacked? My 10 year old daughter was with me when we discovered all of this and she was pretty upset. So we did the only thing we could do to boost our spirits. We began talking about next year's tall fence and harvested everything we could find that wasn't eaten. The animals left plenty for us:

Not a bad harvest from such a ravaged garden. We can still count our blessings and know that some animals are well fed.

Tonight - we make salsa!



Oh noooooooooo! :-(

We've been fortunate to not have to deal with stuff like that too much. Probably because we have six outside cats...


oh, ouch.

Fortunately all my plants have been finished off by my lackluster gardening skills well before the animals could get to them.


How awful! You have my sympathies. Must have been rabbits and raccoon and deer and everyone else out there that night!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens


Hey Marc,
I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your crops! However, we live and learn, so hopefully next year will be better!


Oh no! Those pictures are just horrifying! What a terrible day. Are you going to try to let the potatoes and beans recover?

Wayne Stratz

I know the feeling at work I have to cover almost everything with row covers to keep deer away.

peace be with you.


Marc, I'm sorry to hear about your misfortune in the garden. I've never seen anything like that, it's almost as if they set you up! Do you have any idea who the culprits were? And I thought my groundhogs were a pain. A fence and a trained garden dog are in order for you.

chigiy at Gardeners Anonymous

I like your positive attitude.
When the world hands you lemons make salsa.
Or when your veggies get eaten make lemonade.
Oh, it's something like that.


Oh no! That must have been quite some dinner party for the critters. I feel for you - I'm battling an evil rabbit or two, and will have no beans this year. On the bright side, us gardeners are always optimists - you can still see the silver lining!


Thanks to everyone for your sympathies.

Michelle - you bring up a good point. Will the Sweet Potatoes and Beans be able to recover with a majority of their leaves gone? This is my first time with Sweet Potatoes, so I don't know. Maybe I will publish a post about it asking everyone what they think.

Julie B.

We are dealing with this exact problem this year - groundhogs - sweet potatoes, okra, beans, tomatoes, watermelon plants, squash plants, you name it, they have been eating it, except for the peppers, so far. I'm curious to see if there are any sweet potatoes in the ground since the leaves were eaten a few weeks ago.
I got very depressed and discouraged and could hardly stand to go in the garden. What have you done this year? We aren't into buying a gun. Yet.
BTW we have the blister beetles at least once a summer, too, and was glad to hear we aren't the only ones because I never hear people talk about them. We are in middle Tennessee.
We are also dealing with raccoons,
last year they literally took all the cantaloupe just when they were getting ripe, and there weren't even any scraps for us. - Julie

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