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Friday, July 9, 2010

Whodunnit?

By Jennifer

If I get a worthwhile harvest from my garden this year, it will be a miracle. 

I am baffled by the new crime scenes I find every morning. The season started with entire pepper plants -- root ball and all -- pulled up and left on the ground. Some plants survived the replanting, thank goodness. Now, all of a sudden, the offenses have escalated to trampling and chewing and other maddening insults to my little plot of land.

My first glimpse at an empty pea pod still on the vine made me laugh that my kids were just that lazy ... but now after seeing the carnage to the rest of the patch, I know I have a perpetrator on my hands.

But who?

I present to you the shredded evidence:

 
And this one today, the most infuriating of all, a jalapeno pepper plant (my one and only!) broken at the stem:


In early spring when my seedlings were uprooted I suspected raccoons seeking water. (I've seen signs of their digging before.) This damage, although devastating to me, is still a bit delicate to be their calling card. And it's a little much for birds.

That leaves me to suspect squirrels. Or, as I like to call them, rats with bushy tails. They're just cute enough that my neighbor Karen likes to leave walnuts out for them, and coo and talk to them when they come close. (She doesn't know I was on the other side of the fence working in my garden!)

What do you think? Am I dealing with squirrels? Know any remedies? I thought of sprinkling cayenne pepper to deter them, but wonder if this would have an adverse affect on the tender veggies. Please help!

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15 comments:

Eric said...

my squash and black-eyed peas looked the same... slugs and snails were my culprit. Some sluggo did the job.

Rachel said...

I saw your carnage and immediately thought "Doh! She's got squirrels!" We are in a very similar situation. Our neighbor feeds them peanuts. So we bought a pellet gun. Seems to be the best deterrent ever! And we haven't even fired a shot at them. It's like they know we have it and it's enough for them to stay out of our yard.

Rachel said...

Oh! BTW, the other possibility is that you have rats. They can also do similar damage.

Susan said...

Oh no! Poor plants! I have had something in my garden, but haven't figured it out yet. I read somewhere a few days ago that used coffee grounds would keep slugs away. Might we worth a try! Surely, those cute little squirrels had nothing to do with it. ;)

Meg said...

I've had similar things happen. One plant uprooted, another cut off at the base of the stem. And every pepper that's started had been stolen once it gets to about 3 inches long. It's maddening! I've never had these issues before and would love to know the culprit. I suspect squirrels- there are tons around the yard. We don't have rabbits or deer. I haven't smelt a skunk around the neighborhood and unfortunately (from past years) I know the type of damage slugs do and I've seen no evidence of them. Raccoon is something I never thought of though...

Would love to know if you solve your mystery!

Mrs. Teasley said...

That looks exactly like what happened to our garden and it was a family of groundhogs. They are really active early AM and sometimes around 2pm (here).

contessa20 said...

Wow! We have literally dozens upon dozens of squirrels, birds and rabbits, a few deer and even a possum in our yard and none of them ever bothers my garden. The only time we ever had a problem was last summer when a big groundhog decided he wanted to live under our neighbor's shed and use our garden as his own personal buffet. He would come over and eat the bottoms of tomatoes but leave them still hanging on the vine. He ate all of my cabbage and lettuce too. The neighbor made short order of him though so we haven't had any trouble this year.

angela said...

i've got a very similar post this morning on my own blog. http://clothesline-chronicles.blogspot.com/2010/07/survivorthe-gardening-edition.html tomato thieves...the whole plant not just the fruit. and yes, one was completely uprooted! there were also signs of a raccoon or squirrel. know of any good deer deterent that is safe for the veggies and my family?

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

I can tell you who's doing it in my garden; popsicle stick markers, celery roots, bee's friend herb, borage, dill.....it's our barn RAT Templeton!!!! We've caught 4 Templeton's so far, but there's at least one still at large.....perhaps he visiting you. If so I send my condolences!

MAYBELLINE said...

Get out there at night with a flashlight and do some detective work. I hope to learn the identity of the criminal.

JesR said...

I am so sorry to say it: YOU'VE GOT SQUIRRELS. I knew it from the first picture, and the rest just confirmed.

For those of you with deer or rabbits, planting buckeye around your garden (just a little plant or two) will scare them to death. It's extremely poisonous to them, and they won't come anywhere near it. Trust me, it's the only way anyone around here keeps roses past the bud phase. For the squirrels, I'm gonna just say that you gotta talk to the neighbor...and hang some pie tins to alert you when they're vandalizing!

Julie said...

I hate those pesky squirrels. They like to puncture my tomatoes - just enough to invite ants - and it ruins the fruit. This causes me to pick the tomatoes while they're still a bit green.

Sandy said...

It could be squirrels they have ate our fruit off the trees. But we had something eating our tomatoes and we found out it was a mouse. We bout an ultrasound pest control machine - it puts out a noise that the pest don't like and it has worked. Also, I've used coco mulch in the past to keep the ferrel cats out of our garden.

-Sydney- said...

SQUIRRELS!! Hot pepper spray (water, cayenne, and a few drops of dove soap) has worked for me in the past (also deters bunnies and deer). My dad uses big fake snakes and plastic owls to keep the rodents at bay. But sometimes they're too smart for that.

Deer apparently don't like the smell of eggs. mix 4 eggs in a gallon of water and let sit overnight. Use a sprayer to create a nice barrier around the perimeter of your garden to keep them away!

My war this year is with cucumber beetles. Frankly I prefer the deer :)

Giovanna said...

I think it may be squirrels. They did the same type of damage to my plants, your pictures look identical to mine. I also trapped two large rats that were tired of feeding off my compost and decided they wanted fresh! Just two days ago, I saw watched a squirrel steal two of my baby bell peppers right off the plant!! By the time I got outside, he was gone. I have 6 of the little rascals that bother me!