Who Will Win — The Critters or Me?

August 25, 2010 § 3 Comments

The critters are driving me crazy.

Perhaps it’s the unseasonably hot weather we’re having in San Francisco (though it’s already dropped 12 degrees to 80 today, and our new fan sure helped last night!) that’s putting me on edge. Or perhaps it’s the fact that, since we’re still waiting for our landscaper to get it in gear and renovate our backyard, I’m limited to growing edibles in a few pots and patches of land so I feel extremely over-protective of my tiny crops.

Whatever it is, I need to step it up; otherwise, we won’t be eating much of anything from our garden.

My pot-and-patch garden has yielded two miniscule harvests over the past two days. Yesterday, I picked two Early Girl cherry tomatoes and one giant strawberry that, somehow, had staved off critter offensives, even while we were gone for a week.

The strong survive

The berry that escaped attack

Today’s “harvest” was one apple that fell off the tree, three cherry tomatoes (one Early Girl, two Juliets) and a badly mangled strawberry.

Harvest or still life?

During this morning’s tour of the garden, I realized that the critters are getting more aggressive and smarter as the fruits ripen.

Although the few tomatoes that have survived to ripe adulthood haven’t been great (nice flavor, bad texture), given all of the time and energy I’ve put into caring for the plants, I’d still like to eat any of the fruit that they produce. So you can imagine how annoyed I was when I saw a telltale trail of tomato parts littering the deck — a critter had eaten one of the Early Girls right off the vine. Dammit!

Trail of tomato tears

But it’s the attack on the strawberries that is leaving me completely bereft. The strawberries I’ve managed to harvest at that tricky intersection of ripe-enough-but-not-half-eaten-by-a-critter have been excellent: sweet, jammy, some with even a hint of lovely red wine. They kick grocery store strawberries’ ass any day of the week. So you can see why I’m motivated to keep them for myself (and for my husband…of course).

The strawberry in a sock trick I wrote about earlier only lasted three weeks before the critters figured out what is in the sock — in fact, maybe they’ve even come to associate the black sock with a nearly ripe strawberry, because their attacks have become more ferocious. Late last night or early this morning, something ripped the beautiful strawberry I’d socked yesterday evening from its stem and tried to eat the berry through the sock, resulting in a badly mangled fruit.

I’ve thought about setting my alarm for 2 a.m. and going outside with a flashlight to see what’s back there so I can better defend my poor plants. However, I have to admit I’m slightly nervous that I’ll have a nighttime confrontation with a snarling raccoon, stinky skunk or our neighbor’s evil gray cat, having seen all of them prowling around the yard as if they own the place. My husband says he’ll get me a plastic pellet gun (especially after our shooting adventure in Lana’i) so I can rain down on the critters to scare them away.

If it keeps getting worse, I may have to go Rambo in the middle of the night. In the meantime, I think I’ll go to the hardware store and see if I can get some stakes and a net for the strawberry patch and see if that works better than the socks.

Do you have any good tips or tricks for protecting your garden from critters?

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§ 3 Responses to Who Will Win — The Critters or Me?

  • mai truong says:

    Stephanie, that opening picture of the strawberry is stunning. Love it. I want to print it out and hang it in my kitchen :). And keep fighting for your edibles! If you encounter a raccoon, remember that they dislike water. We just had one on our roof and Craig scared it off by splashing a pasta pot’s full of water at it.

  • Angelia Sims says:

    Oh my goodness! Adventures In gardening! Lol. I don’t have near the excitement in mine, but I don’t have those luscious strawberries either. Man, I hope you get the beast so I can see more pictures. 🙂

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