Late March brought us absolutely wonderful, warm spring days, where cold-tolerant crops like the radish seeds and the onion sets shown above broke ground daily in the potager, daffodils in an array of divine designs opened to sway in gentle breezes. The grass became a thick, green carpet, the birds thrilled with their songs. Even a butterfly and bee were observed enjoying the crocuses. Perfect days enticed this gardener to moved many, many flats outside onto benches to begin the hardening-off process. In evenings, the flats were returned to the greenhouse. Miniature “Pixie”cabbages, “Gypsy” broccoli, red cabbage “Premier,” “Aspabroc,” and all of the early perennial seedlings, snapdragons, stock, calendula and more all crowded the tiny greenhouse shelves. One beautiful evening, with forecasted lows only in the mid-40’s, this foolish gardener decided to leave four flats on top of a 30″ tall bench outside the greenhouse, because I’d moved too many flats from the dreary basement to the sunny greenhouse. There was no more room inside. It was going to be a mild night, and the potager is protected by a 2′ chicken wire fence attached to the wooden fencing. Everything should be fine.
The next morning, I hummed as I hurried to the greenhouse to move the flats back outside. It was another lovely morning, with barely a breeze. However, as soon as I approached the bench holding the four flats, the damage was apparent. Half of a flat of Italian parsley was eaten right down to the soil as well as an entire flat of hollyhocks. A few snapdragons had been nipped off and dropped, and most of a flat of violas had been devoured. I searched for tracks and found nothing. I suspected an opossum, since it must be someone who could climb, not only over the fence, but onto the bench. And, previous experience at the farm had shown that opossums love hollyhocks. Grumbling not only about the loss of plants, but also worried that once I plant my precious seedlings into the raised beds, they could also disappear overnight as well, I moved the critter camera into a view of the area. It was likely that whoever had found a good meal last night would return for another banquet. I left the half-flat of parsley as enticement and the “empty” flat of hollyhocks.
How would I deter an opossum? I fussed throughout the day as I potted the red raspberry bushes that had arrived by UPS. I considered electric fencing around the top of the fence, purchasing live-traps, getting a guard dog, and other options, but I really didn’t want any of them. The next morning, I hurried to get the memory card from the camera and plugged it into my computer. Here’s what I saw:
A rabbit! How did he jump up on the bench? How did he get over the fence to get inside the potager? I searched every inch of the garden fence, looking for a hole or tunnel and found nothing. I checked all around the Lady Shed and greenhouse, and looked for tracks in the soft, rain-soaked soil. There were tracks leading up to the fence on the south side, and tracks on the other side. He’d jumped the 2′ fence. I spent the entire day extending the chicken wire to the top of the wooden fence. Hopefully, he can’t jump 4 1/2 feet! How he jumped onto the bench, the camera did not capture.