Planting – Throwback Thursday/Granny, Groundhogs and Chipmunks

I’ve planted like a whirlwind this week. It’s been rainy, but I’ve mustered on, wearing a large-brimmed hat to keep the raindrops out of my eyes. I’m hoping my sprouts will develop strong roots before the heat gets too high.

You might wonder what the strange towers and sticks are in the back of my garden. These are my sunflower towers created with soda bottles. They worked well last year, and I was able to grow sunflowers in several gardens. I’m hoping they will protect my young sunflower plants from rodents large and small.

I used some of the shells I have on hand for labeling plants. The shells are doing double duty for me and work as rodent repellents. I added a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil inside the inner recesses of each shell. I’m hoping this strong fragrance will discourage four-legged varmints of all sizes.

I’ve already had to replant some seedlings chipmunks and squirrels unearthed in their constant quest for seeds. Last week, I saw my nemesis for the first time this season, that dastardly groundhog who mows down my beautiful plants like a John Deere tractor. He was wary though, I think he remembers his close encounter with the marbles I sent his way last year with my trusty slingshot. Or does he remember the time I chased him yelling like a crazy person and swinging a broom? When I saw him this time I yelled, “GROUNDHOG!” He heard me and ran before I could chase him down. I ended up laughing at myself, when did I start hollering like Granny of Beverly Hillbillies fame? I sounded just like her when she used to get aggravated with Jethro and yell his name.

Oh my! Granny once looked like an old, old woman to me. How did she grow so young, and how did I grow so old? Life…it goes so fast. Now, back to chasing that groundhog…that will keep me young!

Plants – Garden Update/Straw Bale Tomato Garden


I posted in the Spring on “Planting Straw Bales” with tomato plants. The technique has been more successful that I had even hoped. The tomato plants are soaring above my head and loaded with tomatoes of all types. Thus far, I have harvested many grape tomatoes, but so has the neighborhood chipmunk. Growl….


These little guys are adorable until they are ravaging your garden beds or digging dens under your concrete foundations and porches. One of the chipmunk gang in our yard has learned how to raid my suet cage and bird feeders. Double Growl…


I sprinkled chile powder in the chipmunks favorite dining area, but he just brushed it away and kept on feasting. Triple Growl…


One mistake I made with the Straw Bale Garden was placing the bales onto palettes instead of on newspaper. The palettes did keep the area neat at the start, but as the bales have decomposed they have sunk to low levels. I am hoping that somehow the roots of the tomatoes will find their way into the gaps of the palette and reach the ground underneath. I will update again further along in the season.

Problem-Solving – This is War Part I

I hope the photograph shows the deep hole in my Square Foot Garden. My peas were just beginning to sprout when some type of marauding critter decided to make them a meal.

Something large and furry had to be the culprit, or could it have been something large and feathery? My first impulse was to blame the squirrels, but they have been in the yard with my Square Foot Garden for several weeks and have not ventured past the chicken wire enclosing it. The same day I saw the devastation in the garden, I spotted a large chipmunk running around the yard. I know they are cute, but chipmunks are tops on my problem wildlife list. They are voracious and destructive and actually can be dangerous. My neighbor broke her wrist a summer or two ago by catching her foot in a chipmunk burrow and falling. One summer our yard became so overrun the chipmunks scavenged relentlessly even when we were only a few feet away. Wild turkeys have visited my yard too, but thankfully, only once. Yesterday I saw the mallard ducks. They are back. Every spring they return to my yard. Why? To eat beneath the birdfeeder, and then for dessert feast on every fish they can scoop up in my pond. The ducks have become a pest too and are able to easily fly over the chicken wire and gobble up my sprouting peas and greens.

So the big question is what to do to fight them. I have had mixed results in past years. The bug spray I made a few days ago might repel the animals, but the ducks don’t have a sense of smell and will not be stopped by a repellent scent. I also must reapply every time it rains, and if I don’t get out there and re-spray within five minutes of rain stopping, the hungry pests might get there first.

My first weapon was applied immediately, chile powder straight out of the bottle. I have some dried chiles still on hand, and I will blend those and keep at the ready to spread around. So far this has repelled whatever it was that dug up the peas.

I am also a firm believer in scare tactics. Anyone who has lived beside me might know that when I see something near sprouting plants I might run outside roaring like a lion in attempts to scare them away. It works. It also sends my heart rate pounding. I don’t know how wise it is to sprint and roar like this, but hey, it works. I also came up with a few temporary and permanent solutions. Tomorrow I’ll post the permanent solution, but for today, the temporary solution is the focus.

Water balloons. They are at the ready in a basket, filled with water and bit of garlic powder for a little added punch. If I see one of the culprits in or near my garden, they are in for a surprise. Tee-hee! I just hope tomorrow’s newspaper headlines don’t read: “Grandmother falls out second story window lobbing water balloons at wildlife.”

IMPORTANT CAUTION: Balloons can be lethal to small children because they are a choking hazard. Make sure to remove all shreds of balloons out of your yard.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Projects – Square Foot Gardening Update

Yesterday, after visiting Roork’s in Elmer, New Jersey, we began mixing the growing medium for our first square foot garden. Setting these gardens up is a bit pricey. For one 4 x 6 raised bed we spent about 75.00. The good news is that this expense is a one-time occurrence. In coming years we will only need to add a bit of our own compost to the bed. These raised beds need no fertilizer or additional amendments.

Mixing was easy in an old children’s swimming pool. We mixed half the product at a time. Joe did the mixing, I did the clump-busting with a metal garden rake.

We used four different types of humus, the book recommends five, but we decided four was enough, two types of manure, one mushroom soil, and bucketfuls of our own compost from the bin.

We used a whole bale of peat moss as the book, Square Foot Gardening, recommends.

A bale of vermiculite was next. This was the most expensive item. It does look much more natural than perlite though, so in the long run we know it will be more aesthetically appealing.

All we need now is a bit of fencing to keep the rascally rabbits, the curious cats, and the mischevious chipmunks and squirrels out of the bed. Today I might work on making some scary looking owl replicas out of old CD’s. Fun.