Sunday, July 1, 2007

Post number 150 - Garden update

You come home from vacation and are looking forward to see all the things that have grown so well in the sunny and rainy weather, and what do you get? Well, there are large lilies that are flowering, yellow like sunflowers, that never made it before O.K. and I improved the deer fence. The hostas are untouched as well, so we have for the first summer managed to keep the deer out most of the time. But we have an inside enemy as well, a fat little brown thing - THE GROUND HOG (or HOGS, might be several).

And the hot dog (a fitting alternative name), seemed to have had a party in the vegetable garden. Sigh. It got in somehow, probably by chewing chicken wire, and ate all the beans and bean plants, most of the beets and swiss chard (mangold), all peas, all parsley leaves, and a lot of lettuce. That nasty thing! But we had the answer. In an old hardware store in Vermont we found the real thing - sulfur dioxide smoke bombs you put down in their burrows! These cartridges are appropriately named too: THE GIANT DESTROYER - the super gasser. (Remember, this is after trying to trap the groundhog and it managed to get the bait out of the trap and snap it shut after it left, we are not dealing with a normal hog here).

But to find the holes to the burrow, we needed to clean out the barn, since it has a fondness of digging under the barn, and especially under walls and beams. So PP and I got a lot of junk out of the barn, and found 3 burrow holes, plus the one in the flower bed that the kids found a few weeks ago. Down went the smoke bombs, the holes were covered over with dirt, and then we waited. Lots of smoke, no fire, and no groundhogs to be seen. Since then. This was yesterday, and this morning, there were no traces of animals trying to dig themselves out either. So we hope this is it! We are also reinforcing the gate to the vegetable garden with stainless steel, plastic lumber and electric wire, just in case.

Gardening is really a fight with nature, not something that is easy. Michael Pollan writes really about this in his book Second Nature, which I am reading right now. He got mad at a groundhog too, and ended up pouring gasoline down a burrow and then lightning it, only to burn off his eye brows or something like that, and not killing the groundhog. Maybe he needed the Super gasser made in Iowa. I have checked, the cartridges are legal here, and they have more (and bigger) at our local Farmers Co-op. (And not as smelly as rotten herring, suggested groundhog remedy by AnS.) The groundhogs are common, and can live anywhere they want, except in my garden. They are really just vegetable destroyers in a cutesy furry package!

There are some good garden news too - we have lots and lots of perennial arugula, and our concord grape vine has loads of grapes, which will be ready in maybe a month. Our corn (mixed in with asparagus, long story), are 4-5 feet tall now, but not flowering yet. Tomato plants and peppers are doing good, and our inedible celery is 10 feet tall and flowering. Thyme is flourishing, lavender flowering, and soon we will have lots of tomatillos. I have harvested over 25 fresh garlic heads today, and I am not sure what we will make of it yet. Garlic-infused groundhog, anyone?


AREA said...

Did you kill it yet! At least it didn't eat our grapes! YUM!

LS said...

Area, did you read the post? We think it is killed, but we are not sure.

LS said...

There is something funny with the two different post counters - when I posted it, it said number 150, but now it only says 140-something posts in the list in the right column. Oh well, someone else can post something for post 150, part II.

Also, I want to clarify that I think all species have the right to live, but when some species become too many or nature is out of balance, you have the right to do something about it, within reason. There is no lack of ground hogs in New Jersey, just drive down Route 1 and you can spot dozens chewing on the lawns.

O.K. said...

About the number of posts; There are a couple of drafts that counts as well, but they aren't shown on the blog (of course).

O.K. said...

If you got the "hot dog", you have made half of the work preparing a new version of the the icelandic speciality "Sour shark".

Catch a Greenland shark (Håkärring). Bury it. Wait a few weeks. Dig it up and let it dry. Ready to serve!

If no sharks are available, replace with groundhog. ;)

LS said...

We are waiting for you to come here and help with the digging, you are so good at that :)

O.K. said...

As long as I don't have to eat "sour hog"... ;) I think it'd need significant amounts of "Da Bomb" hotsauce.

O.K. said...

Erased the drafts by the way, they were all just variants of published posts.