Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gardening & critters don't always mix well...

We have a cat & two dogs. (Or, maybe they have us; it isn't always clear.) They are all more or less the same size, given the dogs are both Pomeranians. Mercy is a little guy, being a toy Pom. Goodness is huge... for a Pom, but small as generic dogs go.
... Goodness & Mercy shall follow me...
... all the days of my life..
... Miss Kitty = 100% "cat"...
We also have raccoon that roam in the night, and a bunch of squirrels that run the "wall" of arbor vitae along the back of our property. I'll not list the army of slugs I hunt at night with a flashlight and salt shaker, but trust me, many of them are of a size to saddle and ride... and name as pets if they weren't such voracious eaters... hence the salt. We have a small vegetable & herb container garden going this year. In addition to the cherry, heirloom, and beefsteak tomatoes, there are lemon cucumbers, tomatillos, sugar snap peas and green beans, carrot & radish... and of course, basil! If I grow nothing else, I grow basil!
There is also a small rectangular box of greens. One-third lettuce, one-third arugula, one-third mustard greens. (The latter entirely AdesinaCat's idea.) The latest sowing of each were going really well and one evening a few days ago, AC thought we'd harvest lettuce for a salad for dinner the next evening. While out slug-hunting the night before I'd also noticed the lettuce was ready for a salad, so I know for certain she wasn't hallucinating about that.
However, when she went out to harvest the next afternoon... the one-third of the box that had been lettuce was demolished! Uprooted, gnawed to the ground, gobbled, gone! I was just as dumbfounded as she was. What on earth had happened only to the lettuce??? My very first thought was slugs. No way. Even we don't have that many slugs! Nor are they that discriminating of taste. The next suspect was raccoon, but I know the lettuce was still there that morning, I'm sure of it. Raccoon are night time marauders. Given how shredded the remains were, we were most suspicious of some kind of critter. The only remaining suspect we could think of, having interrogated potential human snackers, were squirrels. (This photo is after a few days of regrowth... it didn't look this good when first discovered!)
This is our second crop of lettuce. The initial crop was a lot larger, but we'd had issues with "someone" getting into that too. The box had been much closer to the arbor vitae, which means closer to the squirrels and where the raccoon come onto the property, so we'd pretty much assumed they had been the culprits. There was enough left for us to have a salad out of it and we don't mind sharing. However, "sharing" implies everyone gets some, but this latest gobble-event had left practically nothing for the rest of us.
I mumbled something at the time about such things being an inevitable part of the fun of gardening, but I just wish I'd been able to get a picture of it! Sadly, I didn't place my camera near the door, just in case our greens-rustler returned and wasn't scared off by being caught in the act.
We have plans to build a moveable screen around the greens to protect future crops from poachers. A simple frame of some sort with chicken wire top & sides. Just big enough to keep the nibbling to a minimum.
Today, however, I must confess the squirrels were unjustly and inaccurately accused of poaching, and I sincerely apologize to each and every one to whom I lobbed disparaging comments in the days since our lettuce disappeared.
I took the pups out this afternoon for a potty break while I made a cup of delicious Mount Hagen Organic Instant coffee, iced with milk. When my coffee was made, I opened the patio door... curtains are drawn because heat reflects into the dining room area in this heat... to find my sweet, no-longer-so-innocent, black she-pup, clearly not living up to her name "goodness," standing in the greens planter, snacking on mustard greens. Who knew??? Sadly, it didn't occur to me to grab a camera until much later, so you'll have to take my word for it. I did, however, grab a snap of the remains of the day...
There will definitely be crop protection in the near future.
Joy in the journey,
P.S.: in the interest of TMPI (Too Much Perverse Information) I offer for your twisted pleasure, "Perverted cannabalistic hermaphrodites haunt the Pacific Northwest!" You'll never look at a slug in quite the same way again... lol!

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