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Natural Perspectives: When critters attack my gardens

June 22, 2011|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • This is one of several Amish pie pumpkins growing in Lou's community garden plot. They can reach up to 90 pounds when mature, but this newly fertilized pumpkin is only the size of an orange.
This is one of several Amish pie pumpkins growing in Lou's… (Lou Murray, HB Independent )

I set a goal for myself this year of growing 500 pounds of produce from my home and community gardens. Vic doesn't think I'm going to make it. I'm worried he may be right.

Last year, I grew about 200 pounds of produce from my home garden. Much of that weight was thanks to fruit from our trees, and the rest was due to a bumper crop of tomatoes. I managed to achieve that lofty poundage even though my squash crop failed.

With the addition of my new 14-by-20-foot community garden plot this year, I was sure that I'd be able to reach 500 pounds by the end of December. I've heard that a plot that size can provide 300 pounds of produce. But now I have my doubts that I'll be able to reap such a bounty. I'm being invaded by critters of various sorts at both gardens.

The invasion started in March at the home garden. I had grown the most beautiful heads of red cabbage ever. I was so proud of them. They didn't even have slug damage.

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But a couple of days before I was ready to harvest the largest head, the night critters found it. When I checked the garden on my daily morning survey, I found only a conical stub where a large and perfect cabbage head had been the day before.

I stupidly let the next largest head continue to grow instead of harvesting it. By the next day, it too was gone. So was the one next to it. I can't imagine a single raccoon eating all that cabbage in one night, so I suspect it was a mama and her litter of hungry youngsters.

Cabbage heads weigh a couple of pounds, so that was a major loss in reaching my poundage goal. But I still had my stone fruit crop. Or did I?

Critters got about half of the peaches on my Florida prince peach tree, but we managed to enjoy a few flavorful, juicy peaches this spring. They come early in the season, so they're a real treat. My Babcock improved peach tree had fruit this year for the first time. I was looking forward to tasting them. Sadly, it was not to be.

Last week, we went to our granddaughter Shannon's high school graduation in Seattle. When we returned, there wasn't a peach, plum or apricot left in the backyard.

The plum tree only produced three plums this year, but the apricot tree had been loaded. The critters got every last piece of fruit on the trees and even ate a lot of the leaves off the apricot tree.

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