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The Critter that Ate the Garden

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on May 24, 2011

I like critters.  I think having a wide range of wildlife on my property is a sign that I am providing native habitat and encouraging native plants and animals to grow.  I do have a rule, however, that covers almost everything:  no critters in the area right next to and under my home.  The garden falls into that exclusion zone.  Sometimes critters do not understand the rule and I have to explain it to them.  If this happens to you, here are some ways to convince various scofflaws to leave the garden alone:

  • Armadillos dig up bulbs and other plants looking for bugs.  They also carry leprosy.  They must be sent packing.
  • Deer are large rats when it comes to gardening.
  • Skunks will dig for insects but don’t usually do a lot of damage.  It is their lack of hygiene and subsequent smell that is a problem.
  • Possums are the garbage collectors of the bunch.  They get into things and make a mess.  They also have a mouth full of teeth and will bite.
  • Coyotes will steal and eat melons, cats, and small dogs.

Well, it isn’t the Dirty Dozen, but these are the animals I have the most trouble with in my garden.  What eats your garden (other than insects)?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

AM May 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Critters are a little tamer in upstate NY. My main problems are rabbits and groundhogs. But I am lucky-a lot of people here have so many problems with deer-some have given up gardening all together.

We have skunks also and – yes, coyotes.

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Stephanie Suesan Smith May 25, 2011 at 5:42 am

We don’t have groundhogs here. Deer are becoming a problem everywhere.

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Edgar from project management May 25, 2011 at 3:09 am

That’s a pretty convincing way to teach someone the rules.
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Stephanie Suesan Smith May 25, 2011 at 5:43 am

Well, I want them to remember their lessons.

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grace May 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

I love how you have explained the rules to the critters. 😀 I’m afraid about the coyotes, isn’t it the one which stole Jessica Simpson’s dog? They don’t only destruct gardens but they can be a total trouble!

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Stephanie Suesan Smith May 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

The coyote was not at fault, the owner was. The dog should have been on lead at her feet. City people don’t realize coyotes and hawks consider those dogs nice snacks.

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Chris from Gourmet Vanilla Extract June 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I hear ya, I love wildlife but when it destroys a garden or in my case several big trees along our pond… I’m not as big a fan. We are blessed with lots of beautiful birds species (great blue heron, wood ducks, mergansers, mallards etc..) yet we have some furry flat tailed tree devouring beavers that also enjoy the area. I love watching them swim and collect food for the winter but when I wake up and we have three fewer trees my elation isn’t quite as high. 🙂 Maybe I haven’t explained the rules to them..
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Stephanie Suesan Smith June 2, 2011 at 6:13 am

Wire cages around the base of your favorite trees can help protect them from beavers. Of course, beavers gotta eat, too, so you have to leave some trees for them.

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Chris from BPA Free Dishes June 5, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Yeah I tried the wire cages but didn’t get them out fast enough – plus even when I did have them on the sneaky beaver just climbed up and ate over the top of the wire! I’m fine with the beavers eating a few small one’s just not all my big trees. 🙂
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Stephanie Suesan Smith June 6, 2011 at 5:45 am

Maybe the wire needs to go up further? I didn’t know beavers climbed.

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diploma covers June 15, 2011 at 5:16 am

i recently moved into my house. in the backyard there was a stump tree. i decided to grow a garden around it. After digging up most of the soil my neighbor came by and said i would have trouble growing anything because that stump was a old pine tree. i didnt remove the stump but removed tons of its roots(electric saw:-) that would interfere with planting.

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Stephanie Suesan Smith June 15, 2011 at 5:57 am

Pine trees acidify the soil. You would do best to either have the stump ground out or plant acid loving plants there.

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raw organic food June 20, 2011 at 6:37 am

All I use is homemade compost. My roses love coffee grounds, and the herb garden likes banana peels. For apartments, a good composting alternative is a second hand blender. Just put in food waste and water, blend, and pour on soil. It works great!

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Reece June 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Agreed. I love wildlife too, but there’s definitely a limit. Once critters start setting up shop in the attic and under the house, that’s where I draw the line. Our dog barks up a storm too when there’s noises at night.
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Stephanie Suesan Smith June 30, 2011 at 6:41 am

The difference between a beneficial organism and a pest is a beneficial organism is outside and a pest is inside.

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Reece June 30, 2011 at 10:23 am

Haha, that’s awesome. I’m going to remember that.
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artificial grass london July 9, 2011 at 12:51 am

If it was me I’d want to put in a barrier to prevent the grass from constantly encroaching on the garden. The ditch and landscape timbers can work, but more effective barriers would be.

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barcelona stag weekend August 1, 2011 at 4:22 am

The trough idea is a good one. You may also think about a decorative edging. 4′ x 3′ is a very small area. Where do you want to grow the ground cover? Sun? Shade? Wet? Dry? How large of an area? Vinca and pachysandra does well in shade with moisture. Lirope does well in shade, where it is dry. Sunny areas you have many more choices. Check out your local nursery for hardy plants in your area. Good Luck.

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