Monday, June 18, 2012

It's war

It's me versus this guy:


Closeup groundhog

Make that "guys." Me versus lots of groundhogs.

Here are some scenes from my garden:

Decimated squash to the left

To the left was my squash patch. Now only two chewed down plants remain.

What's left of my pepper plants

I thought my pepper plants would be safe ... alas, the groundhogs saved them for their main course, after the kale, lettuce, peas, and radish ...

It was kale

See? The kale is gone.

The last of my squash

Just two chewed down zucchini plants left in my container.

Tomatillo plant

My tomatillo plants were doing stunningly -- until the bastards got them. That red you see on the leaves is cayenne pepper, but it isn't stopping these iron-stomached thugs.


Gratuitous cat picture. Tinkerbelle says, "I'm a lover, not a fighter."

Seriously, I'm at my wits end. The next step is a groundhog-proof fence, but I have to wait till mid-July for that, when my brother arrives for a long visit. By then, my garden will be in shreds and the fence will only be good for my year-end crop of spinach, kale, and other cool-weather veggies. I've tried all kinds of deterrents: coyote pee, human hair, the aforementioned cayenne pepper, homemade tinctures of crushed mint and citrus oil sprayed around the perimeter, dirty cat litter, and the most desperate of all attempts, boy pee-pee, aged. (I paid my son .50 for every pint jar of pee he could produce. He drank a lot of water that week, I'll tell you.)

Now, I grew up in Vermont and we had very effective ways of controlling garden varmints. But now I live in one of the most firearm-restrictive states in the U.S., with all sorts of laws and dire consequences for taking matters into my own hands. We can trap and release groundhogs, but only if we release them onto our own property. How ridiculous is that? Or we can kill them in the trap by drowning (which sounds horribly cruel) or shooting them as long as we have a special groundhog permit from the department of fish and game. But then I have to go through the rigmarole of buying a gun in Massachusetts and getting it properly licensed. Friends swear by dogs, but a dog for us is out of the question right now, not with two elderly special needs cats. I dislike killing critters, but when they're destroying food that I count on to get us through the summer and into the winter -- yes, I can tomatoes and use my garden to significantly reduce our food budget -- I don't have any qualms about humane execution.

Any suggestions beyond planting extra and letting the groundhogs have at it? Because I've done that and there's nothing left.


  1. Oh no!! Your poor garden! I would be livid it these critters were eating my veggies. What about a sling shot? I'm thinking about the kind you buy at an outdoor store, not the kid's kind. And do you have a friend whose dog you could borrow for a week or so and keep in your backyard? It might be long enough to permanently scare them away.

  2. Kristie, thanks so much for the slingshot rec! When we were down in Texas last week (land of weaponry!), I saw one at a hardware store but it didn't cross my mind to buy it for the varmints. However, when we were down in Connecticut for the 4th, my father let my son borrow a pellet gun that shoots 1000 fps, which, according to some web sites, is enough to kill a groundhog in one shot. Wish we could get a dog ... from the sound of it, they're the best groundhog deterrents. Can I borrow Fergus? Please?

  3. Pellet guns work. Don't know if you've noticed two less woodchucks in the 'hood. It's the rabbit that's driving me insane.

  4. Aha! They were the two "babies" that were tormenting my poor garden for the last month. THANK YOU!!! I haven't seen any rabbits -- how funny! Maybe the woodchucks were keeping them away.


I love comments!