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.)Since 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!