Lots of Groundhog talk this year so I thought I would rerun an old newsletter post showing the frustration of one intern ....Remember its all tounge in cheek
This is a photo of the Unity Garden at Saint Mary's College, located on the south side of Havican Hall. Notice anything strange? I'll give you a hint: it's empty! For the past three weeks I, along with plenty of sad ECDC children at the preschool, have been hard in battle with a ground-hog at both the college garden, and the ECDC garden. This little creature, with it's sweet brown eyes, has been mowing absolutely anything and everything that is not grass! This includes: tomatoes, carrots, radishes, ALL lettuces, kale, collards, green peppers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and countless flowers. The pesky animal in most gardens has been the rabbit, but I swear to you that a ground hog is much worse: they are hard to scare, they get used to your normal routines, they like plants right after it rains, and they do not give up their unity salads easy. So after a few weeks of research, and much re-seeding I have a few helpful suggestions to those who are unfortunate enough, like me, to have this selfish dinner guest.
1. Don't name your pests. It makes getting rid of them hard.
2. Show up and work in your garden at very random times during the day--this will help confuse the groundhog, and the more random you are, the less they can memorize any sort of routine!
3. If you have any pets, let them walk through and around your garden A LOT. Letting them potty around the perimiter will deter ground hogs until the scent washes away. The bigger the dog, the better. Dogs that shed should be most welcome, don't be afraid to scratch and pet your dog as much as possible without straining a muscle, and then sprinkle all that icky hair all around the vegetables!
4. Ground hogs hate stinky things! If you've been hit more than twice it's time to put down things that reek. Some suggestions: peeled garlic, cut onions, moth balls, ammonia soaked rags, epsom salts, urine, ANYTHING that is repungant will work.
5. If putting out stinky things still isn't keeping him away, it's time to spray! If you're organic you can try putting one tablespoon of extra spicy hot sauce into one gallon of water OR buy fish emulsion (which can be found through New Life Soil, or at Lowes). Be sure to spray around and on the plants so the animal gets a big mouthful of nastyness. WIth things like hot sauce and fish emulsion, it is important to know that you will need to re-spray after any rain or heavy dew. If you just aren't too particular about staying completely organic, there are some chemical sprays that are not harmful to plants to deter animals. These can be found at any store with a home and garden section (e.g. Lowes, Meijers, Walmart) and are listed as animal repellants. it is okay to go this route too, but please be sure to follow the directions on the label of what you've purchased before using.
If You Gave Everything You've Got...Or You Can't Stand the Stink!
Your lettuces are nothing but roots, you can't remember where your carrots are because their tops are gone, your cucumbers are just prickly stems, and you're exhausted: welcome to the Saint Mary's College Unity Garden (just joking). If you are in distress and nothing has worked do not hesitate (let's repeat that: DO NOT HESITATE) to put out a live trap. You can find the St Joe County ordinance on trapping and such here.
When trapping and releasing PLEASE DO NOT put a garden-eating animal (such as a rabbit or a ground hog) into another area where people might have gardens, and especially farmland where people make their living on their crops! I wouldn't wish this nuisance on anyone, and coming from a family of farmers, I know they wouldn't aprpeciate it too much. This being said, remember folks that you do not have to re-locate this animal....there are other options for disposing of the groundhog that I'm sure you can think of.
For more information about this animal, try googling it.
Or click on these links:
Happy Gardening and Harvesting!
Ground-Hog Home (inside of the garden bed!)
Unity Garden Intern
Saint Mary's College Garden Leader
By Carla Geglio
When I signed up to be the summer intern for Unity Gardens, I had no idea what I was in for. I remember the night before my first day on the job discussing with my friends what would be the most appropriate outfit to wear, a concern that seems pretty ridiculous in hindsight. Although my mom, the garden leader at the Zion church, is an amazing gardener, I had never taken much interest in gardening. My motivations for interning with Unity Gardens had more to do with the gardens’ mission and role in the community rather than actually, physically working outdoors in the garden. I came in knowing next to nothing about gardening. My first day at LaSalle Square, I was told to put down grass clippings (which keep down weeds and help to retain moisture, by the way!). Although a pretty simple task, I managed to completely invert the process, putting the clippings directly around plants instead of between rows. I remember Sara’s reaction when she saw my mistake was so characteristically positive. She saw it as nothing more than a great teaching moment and showed me how to do the job correctly. Now, entering my 12th week in the garden, not only can I spread grass clippings properly, I can plant most vegetables like a pro, I finally figured out how to effectively wield a hoe, and I can make straight (ish) mounds and rows. This summer, I discovered that I actually like gardening! Especially weeding, to the point that now, whenever I see weeds at the garden or not, I feel a strong compulsion to pull them.
This summer, a lot of my friends had internships in offices and research labs, in places like Chicago and Indianapolis, where they had to dress up every day and sit in stuffy cubicles. My internship was a bit different, and I feel like I really lucked out. Although, prior to this summer, I would never have described myself as an out-doorsy kind of a girl, and most definitely not a morning person, I absolutely loved waking up early and heading to the garden for a couple of hours every morning. I picked up skills that I will one day be able to take into my own garden, I found something that I really enjoy doing every day, and, most importantly, I know that all of the hours I put into the garden went toward something I can really be proud of: helping the community and feeding hungry people. Sara, consistently cheerful, and Mitch, the eternal grump, were both so great this summer and made my internship such an enjoyable experience. This fall I am headed back to Purdue for my final semester. Although I am not really sure what the future holds for me, I am sure that I will look back on my last college summer with fond memories of working away in the garden.
And Studebagels>Einsteins. Always.
Hi, my name is Mitch. I am the Unity Gardens Manager. I am a Purdue Master Gardener and teach many of the gardening classes. I also manage the LaSalle Square Garden, and maintain the website, blog and newsletter.