Feeling Defeated in the Garden

The squirrels, caterpillars, birds, and rabbits are beginning to win.

Back in March, I wrote about the squirrels digging in the garden.  Since that post, I’ve tried a number of methods to drive them away: plastic owls, brightly colored pinwheels, repellent powder, and little bags of coyote urine crystals.

I’ve had the best luck with the coyote crystals, but they have to be shaken every few days (which is gross) and they smell (also gross) and they seem to be signalling to the dog that she can poop around and between my raised beds (grossest of all).

Still, I get the occasional excavation, which always seems directed at the roots, and last week something dug the last of my Fire ‘n Ice radishes, took a single bite out of each one, and cast the rest aside.

I’m picking loads of caterpillars off the cauliflower, beets, and remaining watermelon radishes.  While my daughters cheer at the sight of the pretty white, purple, and yellow butterflies flitting about the garden, I grit my teeth in suppressed rage.  As fast as I scrape the eggs off the underside of the leaves, the butterflies return to lay more.

My bush beans are toast.  As are my sweet peas.  Something is snipping off the shoots.  All of the leaves are gone from my beans.  Only stalks are left.  Toward the end of the week, I had managed to get the peas trained to the trellis, but this morning I saw that the tops were gone.  They had been mowed back to stalks and the pretty flowers with their promise of reward were decimated.  The leaves of my peppers have also been neatly snipped away.

I have no idea what is doing this.  Is it a bird?  A rabbit?  Something more sinister?  Was I mistaken in assuming that the family of robins that I welcomed at the top of the drainpipe would only eat worms and insects?  Starlings?

I shudder to think what will happen once the tomatoes and cucumber start to fruit.  If they ever get the chance.

Garden Pests: This Means War

I’ve always liked squirrels. I admire their take no prisoners attitude. I giggle at the way they chase each other up and down trees. I am charmed by their ability to steal birdseed from the most complex bird feeders. They’re cute, funny, and full of piss and vinegar.

We have tons of squirrels in our neighborhood. On most days, I can count six or more frolicking around my front yard. They drive my dog crazy. It’s funny.


But there is one squirrel that isn’t satisfied by the delicious acorns in the front yard. No. This squirrel comes to the back yard. Is she braver than the rest? A fearless ninja squirrel too fast and too clever to be caught by my dog? Is she an outcast squirrel, unwelcome at the party in the front yard and forced to run the gauntlet of dogs and owls in the back?

I’ll never know this squirrel’s story, but today she crossed an uncrossable line. Today she went too far. Today she fired a warning shot over my bow and in response, I’ve declared war.

Today, she dug up and stole one of my garlic cloves. One of the cloves that I planted in November and nurtured over the long, bitter winter. One of my precious few garlic cloves.

The war is on sister squirrel. My garden is at stake and you are not welcome to my vegetables.