2017 Harvest

Friday, July 24, 2015

Playing garden detective

This year is full of unpleasant surprises, besides the suffocating heat and lack of rain I've encountered a new problem this summer. Few weeks ago when my lettuce started forming nice flower stems(no heads this year because of the heat) I noticed that my stems were starting to disappear. First one then each day more. It looked like they were cut off so I confronted my family about cutting my stems off.

Of course after unnecessary fight we came to the conclusion that none of us cut them off and we had to search for a guilty person elsewhere. Since the garden is basically surrounded with woods, has no easy access unless it's from the yard and my 2 little pests would shout at any moving thing, there was no one other to blame than the animals.

My first thought were the slugs, they could easily eat my lettuce. But, I've never seen any of them in my garden, if there was an infestation of slugs I'd see at least one of them somewhere.
The next hint about the species were my beans. Young bean leaves were starting to disappear leaving us only with naked stems. If slugs were responsible then there would be more leaves missing and whole plant eaten, not just baby leaves.

 Ruling out the slugs I was left with 4 possible perpetrators: deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds.
Deer and rabbit were soon ruled out because my fence around the garden was completely intact and there was no entry point where rabbits could enter(deer even less).
That left me with birds and squirrels.
Garden is always full of birds and squirrels always hang around my orchard stealing walnuts. With the lack of water this year both could easily eat my leaves and lettuce.
The most surprising fact about my little eater was that nothing else was touched. All my other vegetables were intact. Including cabbages which I assumed would also get eaten. Only beans and lettuce were missing and eaten.
Until I visited my orchard. There I noticed that my apple leaves were also eaten off. That didn't bring me any closer to the response.

Then I noticed something else. I have a small blackbird colony near my house. They are present here for the past 10 years, usually gobbling my cherries but not touching anything else. After the cherries would get eaten they would relocate to my neighbors yard and not hang around my garden. This year was different. Past summer we got new residences in our bird family. A couple of wood pigeons started making their nest in the big tree in front of our house. They returned this year also, but at the same time blackbirds never returned to my neighbors yard. They relocated to my garden. Now my fence is full of blackbirds in the morning and evening, they bust my manure pit and jump happily around the garden.
So now I assume my guilty gang is the blackbird gang. That's why now they got as scarecrow, shiny old cd's that should keep them away, but also small pots of water to keep them hydrated. I'm hoping that will prevent them from destroying my plants. Although judging from what I saw, they pretty much like my scarecrow and rest on it :D


  1. Pill bugs might be eating your lettuce. I go through that every spring. They work their way methodically down a row. It's frustrating.

    For the beans, I'd check for caterpillars.Same for the orchard.
    There seems to be something to everything. That's why you need to plant about 4 times what you think you'll need.

    I had a mystery pest get in my corn yesterday. I don't think it's coons--as they usually wait for the ears to be ready. So --it's sit and wait. Something will show up....................

    1. We don't have pill bug here and I've checked today for caterpillars. Didn't find any anywhere near my beans. There are some happily chewing my fodder kale but they leave round eaten circles and beans are missing only young leaves, bean pods are also intact.

      Yes that's true, I always have to plant more than I need and I'm left with only half of the planted amount.

  2. We have had a slug problem this year - the climbing beans have really suffered.

    1. Oh I heard they can be a real problem, I don't have them, they seem to stay in lower part of the village, there aren't any on the hill.

      I heard slugs love cornmeal, they gobble up everything and then die. Seems to work better than beer :)


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