Sunday, 30 August 2009
Critters in the garden
We in Muskoka are pretty tough. Rain, snow, sleet or hail - all on one day. We gardeners are having a tough, too. Between the earwigs and the weather...at least the bugs have lessened. (No, they are not gone, either!)
Don't get me wrong, our Muskoka days have been pretty fair, with clouds in the a.m., sun in the p.m. then thunderstorms in the evenings. Can't ask for more than this. (This week end was a bit of a write-off, coold and rainy, but you win, you lose!)
The weather controls our garden, but not my life. My wildflowers are the most adaptable; there are lessons here. My touch-me-nots are flourishing.
I listened to a great Freshair show. An excellent interview on the 'novice gardener' topic. While I have grown veggies in gardens since the 70s, it is helpful to be reminded that the weather and Mother Nature control our efforts. The novice gardener need not give up!
I have chosen to plant squash in a large, hollow tree trunk. I thought it would put it higher, it would get hotter and have more sun. So far no fruit has set. The expert said it is the fault of low temperatures, but the vines look lovely! What else can hope for? I moved them yesterday into the full sun. I hope it is not too late!
I love the city folks with tales of raccoons, which was the complaint of the interviewer. Poor sods.
We have raccoons with fleas.
Plus, deer, foxes, muskrats, squirrels that dig up all bulbs, nocturnal flying squirrels, bears (who like the wild berries), and ducks that all like my garden. It is a challenge but I have learned to live with them.
Now one critter not plentiful around these here parts is the gopher.
Our house is built on 500,000 million year old Precambrian shield rock. It takes up 1/4 of the basement. There are not a lot of gophers, as our topsoil is rather shallow. Much to my dismay, I spotted my first gopher around here last month. There was a surprise.
My friend, Nancy Tapley, at Bondi Resort, has put 7' chicken wire fences around all of her gardens, including the veggie garden. A massive amount of work. But she is a serious gardener! She has wild and domesticated critters all over her 200 acres! We both have wild turkeys. I captured a YouTube video of a pair last Thanksgiving. (Honestly!)
Some advise putting out bags of human hair or hanging stockings on trees, or posts, with Irish Spring soap in it. There are sprays you can buy, too.
You do what you have to do!
We have Canada geese, too. They kept my clover trimmed - I gave up on grass. Eva came back Thursday afternoon for a visit. She brought the troops. I haven't seen her very often, nor her brood, for weeks! Since they began to fly, they have been (gratefully) absent. They nipped at my water hyacinth and I had very few blooms! I am glad, too, as they were nipping at my petunias!
My heron patrols the lily pond and keeps the sunfish in check. Scares the pants off the frogs, too. The heron alighted on my handy raft - which gets more use by critters than people these days! She bid us well as we were getting ready to go out to dinner!
I watched CBC's The National's special feature, "It's a Wild Life", while I was working out, I might add! (Mental pat-on-the-back!) They had a segment on how coyotes, bear and moose are facing habitat loss due to encroaching humans. For this reason, some in the suburbs are having troubles. With more people feeding the animals, and more food available in gardens, populations are booming. For example, vegetable gardens are ripe for the plucking in suburbia. :-)
Homeowners are advised to pick up old fruit, e.g., from crabapple trees, as animals are drawn to these previously wild locations and this luxurious food fest. But some two-legged ones feed the bears or the raccoons, much to the chagrin of MNR staff and neighbours. You really have to educate people around you!
Cougars are causing problems in South Alberta. Stanley Park, in B.C., offers education programs on coyotes.
As with bears, you are encouraged to be noisy and scare them away. The coyotes are unafraid of children, and one in the CBC show went after a toddler, even while having a full belly. After months of complaints another bit a child in a play ground. Removing the offending critter leaves a space in the habitat for another animal of the same species who will move in quite willingly. Humans sure have imbalanced nature.
Check my post on keeping pets safe at the cottage! They are at risk from fishers, and the like.
We are advised to drive safely and carefully, too. They lose 24 moose to car accidents at Algonquin Park each year. All in all, we really have to figure out how to live with them. They cannot be shipped out to reserves as the whites did to the Native Peoples. We've learned too much to go back in time.