Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why I Have No Blueberries or Sunflowers

 {Giant mammoth sunflowers growing in containers, 2011}

First -- a big Thank You to the lovely Tammy of Casa Mariposa for the kind words of solidarity in my on-going Battle Against the Squirrels. Thanks for the support and encouragement, Garden Sister! If you'll indulge me, I have one more sad story to tell....

{The giant containers I usually use for sunflowers. This year they hold my Mortgage Lifter tomatoes.}

This is the first year that I will not have sunflowers in my garden.  We have successfully grown sunflowers in containers in years past, but this year I'm using those giant containers for my Mortgage Lifter tomatoes. However, I do still have some Teddy Bear sunflower seeds, and I saved one pot for those flowers. I wanted to have their sunny yellow blooms near my front door. But here we are in mid-July, and I still don't have sunflowers. Squirrels dug the seeds out of the pots every time I planted them. I'd find piles of dirt and holes in the pot, the bastards. They even climbed up on the deck and dug them out of the starter flats. I finally moved everything to a protected location, and when the seeds sprouted and were transplanted, I waited until the plants were big enough to move the pot to the front yard.

 {Here's a picture of the flowers I don't have in my garden.}

One morning I left the house and noticed that each Teddy Bear leaf had been perfectly snipped. I don't think that was the work of a squirrel, though. I think that was the little rabbit I've seen hopping around and destroying my neighbors' gardens. I'm having a hard time getting angry at this rabbit, though. I volunteer at an animal shelter and that means I sometimes care for and play with rabbits, and feed them treats. To me he's just a poor little homeless bunny trying to survive in the wild, scary DC suburbs. What's a couple of leaves here and there? Besides, the flowers are coming back, sort of...

blueberry patch 2
So here's the double standard: I have no such sympathy for those little rodent squirrels. When I was younger I used to laugh when my friends told me stories about their parents and grandparents flipping out over squirrels in their garden and trapping them and dropping them off across county lines.  Old people are so weird!, I used to think. Well now I'm an old person, and I TOTALLY get it! The rabbit may have only caused damage to my Teddy Bear leaves, but (as I mentioned in a previous post) the squirrels climb up on the deck and getting into my raised beds and are tearing up everything!!  Take my blueberry plants, for example. My husband built this mesh net around the blueberries to protect them from the birds and squirrels.  One day I saw that some of the berries were starting to turn bluish-purple, and they were almost ready for harvesting. I went back the next day to harvest them, and they were gone! Plucked right off the vine. Something had chewed a hole through the net. We fixed it and waited for a few other berries to ripen. A couple of days later I  went to harvest the berries, and I caught a squirrel red-handed!!! Or blue-handed, as it were. I swear that little jerk had blue juice on his face and he gave me the finger as he slipped through the gaps in the fence.


My husband then put a wire fence and some boards in the back against the wooden fence (you can see the wide board on the left). That took care of the gaps by the ground, but the squirrels were still climbing up through the top gaps to get the berries. Last weekend, we just pulled the net and boards down. All the berries have been eaten, so what's the point in keeping them up?

As I write this post and reflect on everything, I can't help but feel a teeny tiny bit of admiration at their persistence. I wonder if their moms gave them "If at first you don't succeed, try again" speeches. I wonder if I would be so persistent in going after something I really want if someone kept putting up obstacles (and hoped I would die). Also, there's a McDonald's not too far from my neighborhood. Sometimes I smell that wonderful fried potato smell when I'm working in the garden. I've even seen birds flying by with fries in their beaks, and I've seen squirrels carrying brown things in their paws, probably buns or nuggets or hash browns. I am impressed that these critters would want to balance their diets with some healthy foods.

 So now that this is all out of my system, I'm just going to let it go....(until next year).

30 comments:

  1. oh no, i'm so sorry about your blueberries and sunflowers! you need chickens--my chickens gang up and chase squirrels away. of course they would also munch all your blueberries, but they'd do it in a cute way and you couldn't be mad at them :) i made the mistake of leaving my garden gate open today and they got in and ate an almost-ripe chocolate cherry tomato i was looking forward to eating later this week. they're so naughty sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh how funny! So if the squirrels don't get to my food then I guess the chickens will, LOL. As long as they leave something!

      Delete
  2. It's so disheartening when animals decimate our plants. I can't believe you've found a bright side to all this - balanced diets indeed! I love that idea! If Emily's suggestions of chickens doesn't work - try a terrier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I'd love to get a dog some day! Yes, something to run them off would be good. My cats are pretty useless in that area.

      Delete
  3. I feel your pain! We used to have rats that would eat plants just as you thought you were going to get a lovely cop from them. All of a sudden they just seemed to go away, perhaps a neighbourhood cat or someone posioned them, not sure but touchwood they haven't been around for awhile. Hopefully a similar things happens with yoru squirrels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That stinks! I hope the rats don't come back. There's always a battle with something, isn't there?

      Delete
  4. Frustration indeed. About those flowers...what if you started them indoors then transpalnted them & covered them jn cayenne pepper :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did start some flowers inside, but didn't think to put anything on them when I transplanted them. I've never had this problem before. For some reason, they went after my flowers this year.

      Delete
  5. I feel your pain. A couple of months ago I just knew some creep in the neighborhood was ripping the tops of my beautiful sunflowers. I had one large volunteer (even blog/bragged about how beautiful it was) and a row (A ROW!) of little sunflowers that only grew to 18 inches. As soon as they bloomed some idiot would sneak into my backyard and rip off the top, leaving me with a stupid stem. Honestly, it looked like someone torn the bloom off with their teeth... Then I saw one of the little @#^!# squirrels with a bloom... I'm thinking about learning how to use a bow and arrow (no guns in the city limits - yeah, I checked). But now that you mention it, maybe the McDonalds grease would do the trick. I know it would keep me out of the garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SO sorry to hear about that! It is very frustrating. I think we'll both be more strategic about when we move our transplants next year, right? ;)

      Delete
  6. I think I'd go postal if squirrels ate all the blueberries I'd been growing, really admire your outlook on the situation :) Hopefully better luck next year!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jes! Yep, I'll keep trying, or build a better barrier next year.

      Delete
  7. Deer are my nemosis. We have two ferrel cats on the property that seem to be taking care of the squirrels though I find the bird feeder empty in the morning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My neighbors have a bird feeder, and the squirrels always get to it. They've switched out the feeder and bought "squirrel-proof" feeders, but those squirrels still manage to find a way. They are persistent!

      Delete
  8. Sorry about your blueberries. But if I had McDonald's all the time, fresh fruit and veggies would be most welcome! I'm not certain that those fries are even digestible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! That's why I kind of sympathize with them, hehehe.

      Delete
  9. OMG...they really are the biggest pest sometimes, aren't they?!? You do have to give them credit though, as you said, they are almost eerily clever...and they rarely give up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Eerily clever is a great way to describe them .Can't help but admire them a little.

      Delete
  10. I once raised a squirrel from earliest infancy, and I can attest to their intelligence. Whiskers was as smart as any dog and would have made a fine pet were it not for his innate wildness. He was extremely cute and had a loving disposition. He liked to lay in my husbands lap and have his belly scratched! As he approached adulthood I introduced him to his natural habitat, and when he was ready, he returned to the wild. My gripe against squirrels in general is that they won't take a little and leave the rest. They want it all for themselves!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's fantastic Deb! If we got more injured squirrels at the shelter, it would probably change my perspective (we do get some wild animals, but not many). I do give them credit for their determination and cleverness.

      Delete
  11. I too lost my blueberries to some critter who snuck into my front yard in the middle of the night. Sorry your blueberries met the same fate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry to hear that Susan! You're not the first to mention losing blueberries. Had no idea they were so popular amongst our garden critters. I hope you have better luck next year.

      Delete
  12. Oh dear - all is not well in the Bumble Lush garden - again. It is such a shame after all your expectations - still, as you say, there is always next year.

    ReplyDelete
  13. We have deterred squirrels from bothering our birdfeeders by sprinkling ground corn on the ground for them to eat. Once they had their own food supply (like the birds), they left everything else alone.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This post is sad but sooo funny!! I think barbed wire or an electric fence would solve your problem. As much as squirrels drive me crazy in the summer, I feed them all winter. I think Carolyn might be on to a great idea. My squirrels have an endless supply of food in my feeders and usually, but not always, leave my plants alone. They park their furry little butts in my platform feeder and gorge themselves. It's reverse logic but it might just work. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I had to read this to my husband so we could both roar as we used to battle the behemoth squirrels in our old neighborhood...so similar so I do understand your frustration...now it is the deer or the weather as the sunflowers didn't have enough water and the blueberries have browned and shriveled due to drought...I got a few blueberries and one sunflower volunteer..

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ha! Thanks for the chuckles. We certainly all have our "favorite" and not-so-favorite pests to deal with. Rabbits make my blood pressure spike, every year! We have a rabbit den in our yard (although I don't have the heart to smoke it out). But this year, the chipmunks have truly tried my patience. I no longer think they're cute either. Again, thanks for the humor--it helps. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I had some Dutch friends who had rabbits for pets that used to play with my last dog so its hard for me to get mad at them. The squirrels on the other hand are a real nuisance. I'm sorry for your ongoing ordeal. I will miss the Teddy bear sunflowers this year. I bought some dwarf sunflower seeds because I liked yours so much, but neglected to plant them. :(

    ReplyDelete
  18. Here's a link for you to check out. It would make a beautiful trip to the Va countryside. :o)

    http://www.overthegrassfarm.net/

    ReplyDelete
  19. I hear ya! I tolerate bunnies in the garden===even when a bunch of little ones dash out from under the squash leaves when I go to mow. They don't seem to cause irreparable damage to anything. But the squirrels are monsters! 8 foot high chain ink does not keep them out of the blackberries or blueberries and when I see them on the bird feeders I send the dogs out immediately. Little rats!!!! Stevie@ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

    ReplyDelete

Hello, and thanks for stopping by my garden site. I appreciate the time it takes to read posts and comment. Happy Gardening!