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
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.