The Bad

Not everything in the new potager has been perfect.  The most frustrating aspect comes from critters, who thwart every effort.  The most frustrating has been the raccoons, which have decimated the strawberry harvest.  After only 4 quarts of beautiful, big berries, my harvest has been ZERO because the coons are eating the berries just as soon as they form, even before they begin to show color!  You can see from the photo that they nibble the berries right to the stem cap, just as soon as they are marble-sized.  (Note the black spot on my thumb nail….let’s just say my carpentry skills are not equal to my weeding skills.)DSC00066.JPGSince they discovered the berries, the potager has become their favorite playground.  They’ve knocked rail planters over onto the ground, dumped flats of plants,


pulled the timbers away from the borders, and then merrily dug up plants,


knocked over pots,


and generally just made a mess and destroyed dozens of plants.  Some nights they dig out the landscape cloth under the paths. Most mornings it takes me two hours just to tidy up their pranks.


One early evening, after I had just showered and changed into my nightgown, David called, “Look out the window!”  A mother coon and three youngsters were heading straight toward the potager.  I ran outside, shouting, and banging two boards together that I picked up on the way.  By the time I reached the garden, they were already trampling strawberry plants.  Obviously, they had visited before.  After much yelling and board banging, and with David’s help, we finally herded them out of the garden.  I needed another shower after all the running.  I’m sure if someone had taken a video, I’d be on “America’s Funniest.” Good thing we live in the country with no close neighbors!

A review of the critter camera the next morning showed that two additional coons later made nocturnal visits to the berry beds, which are now fairly flattened and sad.  Raccoons are good climbers and have no difficulty going over the fence.  I guess I’ll have to add electric fence, although I really don’t want to.  However, if I want to harvest any of the miniature melons, tomatoes, and other coon favorites, I’ll have to do something besides pray.

Another bad guy is the bunny; probably the same one who ate all the parsley and violas and snapdragons while they were still in flats on the bench.  I see him occasionally hopping across the lawn.  This week in the front potager border, he bit off about half the 8″ tall zinnias just above soil level and dropped them.  What a waste!  You’d think after he tasted one and didn’t like it, he’d pass the others by and try something else, but no, he just went down the border and cut one after another.  Fortunately, I have more and I’ll give them a good spray with Plantskydd right after planting.

So far, knock wood, the deer haven’t jumped the fence into the potager, but they are browsing on the newly-planted red raspberry rows.  I finally got the posts in and berry netting over them, so that should end that.


Another bad guy, the Japanese beetles.  They seem more abundant this year than last.  They especially like all the basils and the okra blooms, but I photographed these on the yarrow.  I’ve been hand-picking them, but it’s time consuming and not my favorite past-time.  With the 90-degree days we’ve had (unusual for June) I spent much of my time watering all the new plantings (removing spent peas and re-planting those areas) and the berry rows.  I’ve also been working on a few little projects.  (More about those in up-coming posts.)  So, dear reader, I haven’t had much time for blogging, and I do appreciate your patience.  I’ll do better!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
This entry was posted in garden pests, gardening, Potager, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Bad

  1. Robin E. says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your battles with the beasts. We have some here, too. Our outside dogs keep the coons away, but rabbits sneak in and we have a mystery bird that goes down the rows snipping things off and dropping them. It was 3 rows of beans again this year. I don’t get it, but what can you do? Every year I think, next year will be better. And it is [for some things.] Happy summer!


  2. jennerjahn says:

    We solved our raccoon problem with a shotgun. Probably illegal, but buried them in our back yard. that was a couple of years ago. They will probably return this year now that I’ve talked so smart……


  3. Karen B says:

    Oh my goodness. I am so, so sorry to read of the troubles you are having. I really don’t know how you are going to stop those Racoons. I had no idea they could be so destructive. You must get so upset.
    Here in England Rabbits are the biggest problem . But I have rabbit proof fencing. I don’t think they eat Snapdragons though.
    I have had Black fly. Powdery Mildew, things rotting due to too much rain….but no Racoons. Thank heavens I have none of them 😦 Karen


    • carolee says:

      Raccoons killed 11 of my neighbor’s chickens last weekend, so they are more than just destructive, they are deadly. And, many of them are diseased, so you really have to be cautious. The sick ones often come out in late afternoon. They have an eye condition that makes them think it is darker than it really is.


  4. Carolyn Raines says:

    OH MY !!! 😦


    • carolee says:

      I’ve relocated 2, the neighbors have moved 13, so the destruction has ceased for the moment at least. I actually picked a beautiful quart of strawberries this morning. Hurrah!


  5. Jackie Powers says:

    Those raccoons are destructive troublemakers for sure. So far, our little electric fence seems to be doing the trick for my raised beds. We have a family of raccoons (mom and 5 babies) in our platform bird feeder every day…yes day and night. They run to hide in the barn next to the garden when chased out of the feeder. Along with some opossums and skunks in the yard, they so far have confined their activities to digging up patches in the yard and foraging around the bird feeders. I did lose much of the tops of my carrots recently. I think the culprit there were swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. I had seen a half dozen in the dill before the carrot foliage was cropped off. I added netting over the carrots to keep more out…they are welcome to the plentiful dill. Alas, after inspecting for caterpillars and chrysalis I am afraid our hungry wrens had found the caterpillars though. Good luck with protecting your potager. A few shocks from an electric fence wire should help out.


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