Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sherri, Sherri, Quite Contrary: A Garden Update

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Sherri, Sherri, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
The stems are slow, the food too early
Then animals chomp it all.

I know, I know. It didn't rhyme. But this year's garden is disappointing.

The herbs are doing really well. The strawberries were great. Then the birds got the blueberries and cherries. The vegetables were suspiciously flat. The sunflowers were pruned by some sort of creature when their stems reached knee height. The bell peppers were eaten. The serranos were not. (Apparently the wildlife shares my love of fresh foods, but not of hot peppers.)

The peaches were flourishing. Small, but many. We probably had a hundred peaches on the tree nearing ripeness, then the next day there were two. As in one... two. Two peaches. Most of the branches were broken and a bunch of pits were on the ground. I thought maybe deer had gotten to them.

The number of plums also seemed to be shrinking and a couple of that tree's branches were broken, too.

We just planted those trees last year and this was the first time the fruit was edible, so we were really excited. Until the fruit started disappearing and the branches turned up broken. Now we're hoping we can keep the trees alive and get them protected better before next year's harvest.

Well, we've spotted the culprit. And it wasn't deer.

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This first photo is a little blurry because I took it through a closed window and screen. So, let me explain what you're seeing. A woodchuck under the tree with a plum. And... oh, wait... what's that? Another woodchuck in the tree.

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When I opened the door, they each grabbed one more plum and ran off.

Woodchucks.

I didn't see that coming. Later yesterday, I caught one eating the squash flowers. Guess I won't be getting squash either.

So, yeah. The garden in the back of the yard hasn't been much of a success. Next year we need a fence and maybe some other creature deterrents.

The plants we have in retaining walls closer to the house of done better (except where the birds swooped in). One of those plants is watermelon. I had a watermelon plant on the retaining wall last year and apparently a seed was left behind and grew into a brand new plant this year.

Yesterday, I saw a few teeny tiny watermelons starting, like this one:

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I've never spotted watermelon at such an early stage. The flower is still there, though it has closed up, and the melon has fuzz on it, yet you can still see the tell-tale green stripes. This one is about the size of my thumbnail.

You go, little watermelon. Beware of woodchucks.

13 comments:

  1. Your neighborhood critters eat better than you do!
    ;)

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  2. Truly I AM WONDERSTRUCK with this especially timely post! Not only do I love your "flourishing" update, but I think it's quite possible that you solved an especially vexing issue on my end. AKA, the identity of sneaky garden thief :-(

    As a grand lover of figs, I was thrilled to learn of a variety of fig tree that is just hearty enough to winter outdoors in our zone here in PA (rather than having to haul an enormous back-breaking pot indoors every fall.). I planted my trees last fall and they are growing beautifully. You can imagine my thrill at having my trees fully loaded with figs by mid-summer and not long ago they were ready for picking. My hubby suggested "just one more day" of ripening before the grand harvest, so you can be assured of my complete shock and horror when I went out to the garden to admire (eat) my goods only to find them Completely & Thoroughly GONE. Not a trace of my plump little delights. I had no clue as too the evil culprit until reading your plum tale.

    It makes all the difference to know ones opponent, so thank you, Sherry, for narrowing the field of suspicion! Time to put on my Elmer Fudd thinking cap and get to the business of outsmarting nature.

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  3. Those guys are active around here too and they have NO FEAR!

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  4. It's happened to me all summer, too, Sherri! I am NOT a gardener--but I was so thrilled that the strawberry plants Austin gave me were finally blooming that I got a raspberry plant, too. When the strawberries we almost ripe--"just ONE more day and they'll be perfect" ripe--they disappeared. So I put the raspberry plant in a pot and decided to grow it on my porch, away from the bunnies and squirrels. Silly me! I noticed the raspberries were about a day away from perfection (uh-huh...), so I let them be, thinking they were safe. While sitting in my living room one day, I noticed the poor little raspberry bush shaking like crazy. "That's funny," I thought, "it's not that windy out... what the...???" There was a bird going crazy trying to get the berries off the bush! I went outside, but too late--the little rascal had already enjoyed quite a feast!! Well, at least I can't say nobody likes my "cooking"! ;)

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  5. So sorry to hear about your missing figs mystery, Barbara! Perhaps a woodchuck is at work in your yard, too. If you figure out a way to thwart it, let me know. I caught a woodchuck under my plum tree again just a few minutes ago. I had to run across half the yard before it ran away.

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  6. I think the birds got my raspberries, too. The critters in our woods must LOVE us!

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  7. I had no idea! But today I had to run halfway to it before it ran away. Clearly he's no longer afraid of the door opening.

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  8. It would be hilarious if you hadn't put in so much work! What enthusiastic woodchucks. We planted upside-down tomatoes in our garden and the plants grew beautifully but without any fruit! We tried for 2 summers, hand watering in 100+ degree temps every day... the kids graphing the growth... zippo.

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  9. Oh, they are so CUTE! We don't have woodchucks here. We do, however, have possums in plague numbers and they also attack home crops. They or the birds got all my apples. But I try to think of the big picture -- I probably got more pleasure out of watching the apples grow from the blossom than I would have from eating them. I was glad to have provided some food for the local wildlife. :-)

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  10. Hi! :)
    I have never tried growing anything until this year. I have one of those teeny tiny watermelons on my plant too; it looks just like yours! There are also 2 more; they are slightly larger. One is long like a cucumber would start out,while the other is round. I was searching for the answer as to what the white fuzzy stuff, on my watermelon plants, is and found an image in Google that led me here. Judging by your photo, and lack of complaints about your watermelon...can I assume that this is normal? There is no white on the leaves.. I checked after I was told it could be mold; it does not look like my friends moldy (white powdery) pumpkin plants. Please help a new gardener out. :)

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  11. Thank you for dropping by, Dessalena! This is my second year growing watermelons, so my experience is limited. The fuzz you see in my photos, though, seems to be okay. It actually covers all of the stems and the watermelons when they are little. Once the watermelons get a little bigger the fuzz goes away (on the watermelons anyway, it seems to stay on the stems). To me it looks like a protective feature of the plant- maybe it helps keep pests at bay? I think of it kind of like thorns on roses.

    I hope this helps! Please come back and let me know how your garden does this year. Enjoy your watermelon!

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  12. Thank you for your reply. :)My sweet daughter LOVES watermelon and she is the only reason I am growing it, I'd hate for to not be able to enjoy it right out of our backyard. I will stop back by .....hopefully I'll be able to say that I have lots of cauliflower...it doesn't seem to be growing at all, which makes me sad since I had many recipes planned ( cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower alfredo sauce.. to name a couple). Happy gardening!! :)

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