Last summer, I told the harrowing tale of my encounter with a groundhog or woodchuck or whatever. This critter was not the cute Punxsutawney Phil who greets us each February to tell us when spring will arrive, but my backyard nemesis who insisted on feasting on my garden. I won’t go into the details of last year’s guerilla war now, but you can read about it here.
This year, we were prepared for the beast. Yes, now he is a beast. With each telling of the tale from last year, he has grown in size and viciousness so that now he is an actual evil presence – a creature that falls somewhere between a possessed bunny and Bigfoot. Knowing that the beast is back, we have refortified our garden. It now sits not only behind our backyard fence, but behind a second fence. We have posted scarecrows too, but the only animals that seem to be wary of the straw men are my dogs.
Despite their fear, I must applaud my dogs who have been staying close to the garden guarding the crops. Honestly, I am not sure it’s as much bravery on my dogs’ part as it is that the garden is next to their pine tree which provides an abundance of shade for them. Plus, we put sand underneath the tree, which gives them a comfortable place to lounge and there is a puppy pool too. When I think about it, it’s like they have their own little summer home thing going on back there.
Anyway, the dogs were there–sort of on guard. But still the groundhog came, and he has feasted on my melons. I look forward to my cantaloupes each year. I only get 12 to 14 of them in a good year, and this rodent has already devoured two. So, I did what any other frustrated farmer would do when trying to thwart the evil actions of nature, I hit the Internet.
There, I found an article about determined groundhogs that want to steal my food. The article suggested that I mix up my gardening routine and visit my plants a few times per day – but not on a schedule. It also suggested I make noise when approaching the garden as groundhogs don’t like noise. So, for three days, I made unplanned trips to my garden. I didn’t even write them down on my calendar. In my hands, I carried a makeshift drum which consisted of a pot and a ladle. I banged it loudly while I yelled, “Get out! Get out of my garden!” So far, the only critter that has responded to this scare tactic has been my neighbor Eddie who came out to inquire if the heat had finally gotten to me.
And the groundhog returned. Since the loud noise strategy proved to be unsuccessful, I moved on to Plan B: the Hot Sauce Spray. The article suggested that I make a mixture of hot sauce and water and spritz it on the leaves of my melons. I went to Whole Foods to get hot sauce. I figured since my garden was organic, I had to stay true to that philosophy. I got Rocky’s Organic Hot Sauce, recommended by a guy in the condiment aisle who said it would make my sinuses explode. I am assuming this guy did not write ad copy for Rocky, but I did like the idea of exploding groundhog sinuses, so I bought a bottle. I made my mixture and spritzed it on the leaves, and I waited and waited… and nothing.
The groundhog has not come back to the garden since the spritzing. Maybe Rocky’s Hot Sauce did the trick. Just in case, my dogs are still camping at their pine tree retreat ready to pounce if we are invaded again. And me, I sit on my back porch with pot and ladle in hand ready to do a drum solo that would make Ringo Starr cringe in pain if I see even the shadow of the creature. You know, I sometimes wonder if I have been working from home too long.