It sure was nice to get that rain Monday morning! I had been busy irrigating last week, but the plants are happy to get some real rain. This hot weather has also been good for the tomatoes and peppers. They had both slowed down last week when the nights were a bit cooler. Normally we have to string the tomatoes almost every week in July, but we took a week off because they were not growing very fast. I do not enjoy the hot weather, but if it is cool all the time then the tomatoes would take forever to ripen.
Last week I talked about how a big section of the field was not looking so hot, which was a little disappointing to me. Well, this week I am going to complain some more about something else that isn’t really disappointing to me, but has made me really frustrated. I think I’ve mentioned this a couple times already this year, but looking back I think this has caused more crop damage and loss than anything else this year. More loss than the poor soil, bugs, weeds, or human error, which all have been a factor in different crops not doing as well as they could. What has caused so much damage you ask, just a heard of groundhogs.
Side note – There is not group name for groundhogs. I guess they don’t really travel together nor do you often see many together at the same time (expect here on the farm…). However, there should be a name for them. You can have a pack of weasels, a scurry of squirrels, a gaze of raccoons, and even a decent of woodpeckers, but nothing for the groundhog/woodchuck. Maybe I will name a grouping of groundhogs a disaster as in, “I saw a disaster of groundhogs eating your broccoli today”. To that I would say, “What’s new”.
Last year I wrote about this problem as well, but those problems seem small compared to this year. They have continually been eating our kale patch. They even dug a home right next to the kale patch. They ate through an entire patch of broccoli and mini cabbage. They have been eating beet tops, carrot tops, lettuce, and a few other things. I feel like I am just growing food for the disaster of groundhogs that seem to be living off the farm.
This has been going on since the middle of May and I may now be a little ahead of them now. I’ve greatly increased my efforts to remedy the groundhog situation. The biggest thing this year is finding, filling in, and monitoring all their entrances under the fence. You can see in the picture the soil I put under the gate and the barricade we put up so they cannot get in between the gate and the fence. Larger animals trying to get in side the fence will also have a hard time at this gate. Knowing where their entrances are and the home they dug next to the kale I’ve trapped a few, which has decreased their population. I have always tried to be discrete about trapping in the past because I didn’t want families to walk by a trapped ground hog on their nice peaceful walk through the nature center. I don’t worry about that any longer. Now, the only problem I have with trapping them is that I’ve had two traps go missing on me…
While it has been very frustrating seeing them mow down entire patches of broccoli, I think with my recent efforts we are finally in good shape. All the fall brassica that I’m sure they would love to eat have mostly been fine. There is a huge feast out there for them, but I think because there are not many left and they cannot find many safe places to get in, they have not touched it yet. Here’s hoping that continues and the extra broccoli and cabbage will grow and we’ll have an abundant fall.