The Scarecrow

Garden Pests

Peter RabbitWhat do you do about pests in the garden? And from this, I mean bugs and animals that can damage or kill the plants in your garden.

It is funny what I learned about garden pests as a kid. Growing up in the 70’s that meant that most of what I know was learned from Hanna Barbera and other cartoons and characters. Consider some of the famous characters surrounding the war between the gardener and the elements:

Heckle and Jeckle the pesky Terrytoons Crows

Bugs Bunny and not a carrot in the ground that was safe

The Scarecrow from the Wizard of OZ

Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor

Chip n’ Dale were Disney’s addition to the gang.

Its funny how what was once entertainment might not pass the muster of the PC thought police today. But as far as the gardener is concerned, these stories offered credible antagonists in the stories of our lives. On the one hand they are cute loveable animals we want to protect. On the other, they are vicious evil creatures doing damage to our plants, stealing our food and undoing all of our hard work.

This summer has been very much the same for me. And until recently, I have had real trouble with the little creatures who have been offing my crops and wrecking havoc in my garden.

Lettuce PatchOf the 7 types of lettuce I planted, I have only been able to harvest 2 – Arugula (which I have had a lot of) and Romaine. The culprits? Rabbits. And until I got proper fencing around the lettuce patch, it was a gonner.

Our neighborhood has lots of rabbits. There were about 8 of them demolishing everything that came up. And it was kind of funny because they would go a row at a time. The Kale was the first to go. Then the iceburg and butter. And finally the Romaines (red and green).

I did not have proper fencing so I was able to use a few makeshift pieces – a large tomato cage, a dog cage, 2 bed springs and a baby door gate. It does not look as trashy as this may sound. But I will take some credit for its success. As soon as I finished enclosing the lettuce and zucchinis, the rabbits left. And magically, I could start harvesting lettuce and zucchini.

So far, the tomatoes are growing like crazy, but nothing has turned red (my fault for not getting them in the ground until the end of May). Hopefully, within a week or so we should be inundated. But I am not alone here. We have had a crazy amount of rain – and not enough hot sunshine.

The back patches are dedicated to cucumbers melons and pumpkins. The animals got to the Radishes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. All my plants started from seed trays in April. I got them in the ground the last week in May. In looking back I should have been sure to have fencing to protect what I had planted. Live and learn.

For my part, I have not had many problems with bugs – any in fact. Here in Eastern Pennsylvania, the pest du jour is the Lanternfly. Finally something has come forward to overshadow the Oriental stinkbug. Apparently they are very hard on trees. As the summer has progressed, we do see them a lot. There are trees all over the Borough with duct tape wrapped around the trunk. What it does? I have no idea. As bugs go, they seem kind of dumb and uncoordinated.

In retrospect, fencing will be one thing I will be saving up for next year. Plastic fencing is not incredibly expensive. I will invest over the winter and protect my efforts.