Gardening has been a lifelong passion for Wende and she’d like to share her passion with her readers. Follow her as she writes about her gardening adventures, lists tasks to do depending on the season, and gives easy to understand gardening advice.
I look out my front window seething, watching well-fed bunnies happily hopping all around my yard. Don't let them fool you - even though they are fluffy and cute, they are pure evil under all that silky soft fur and innocent demeanor. Just ask Elmer Fudd and his friends – who have hunted and tracked their silly prey for over 70 years. Bugs Bunny is less interested in escape than in driving his pursuer insane and can be heard to say (with casual unconcern), “What’s Up, Doc?”. Well, bunnies, I will hunt you down, trap you all, and get rid of you – for the next 70 years if I have to! You have eaten your last tulip just as it opens up – sawing off the flower stem with a diagonal bite and leaving the flower petals to dry up on the lawn in the spring sun. To use your own catchphrase, "Of course you realize this means war!" This is not fun and games. You seriously have to go.
All kidding aside, rabbits wreak havoc on yards, gardens, and parks where thousands of dollars of trees, shrubs, annuals, bulbs, and garden plants are eaten every year. Besides munching on the flower heads and tender sprouts in the spring, they do the most damage in the winter when they are foraging for food to fill their nutritional needs. Have you seen any areas where the bark of your shrubs or young saplings have had their bark scraped off not too far up the base? Many times you can see where the hard packed snow provides a hill around the trunk that gives them ample access and the ability to stand up on their hind legs and reach as far up as they can. This is called “girdling”. They girdle the saplings to reach the tree's cambium layer, a coating of sap under the thin bark that provides the tree with nutrients and acts as antifreeze. Once the inside is exposed, extreme cold weakens the tree’s defenses, allowing it to freeze and inviting disease and pests to get in and kill it. Parks, golf courses, and botanical gardens (not to mention home and business owners with yards) have to pay the price – replacing the costly vegetation. This can be $50,000+ a year for a greenscape such as a golf course.
Move over bunnies, my next enemy is the squirrel. These tree rats cause a lot of havoc in our yards, eating bird seed, digging up lawns, shorting out transformers, snipping off buds on trees and shrubs, and when populations are large they can also eat the bark on trees like rabbits do.
What bugs me the most about them are the saucer type digs they create all over my yard. And they are bold! I would move the earth back when I found one and a few hours later they would be back with a new one! These pint-sized archeologists are looking for history, which in their case is only last year’s history – nuts that they thought they buried. I wonder how many they actually find? I’ll bet the percentage is very low. If they could remember, there would be fewer holes in my yard.
I get asked often about how to start a new planting bed - for flowers, veggies, whatever. We had a planting bed on the side of the house that got all day sun, and had very little growing there, so we decided to use it to grow tomatoes and peppers. I documented the steps in pictures as we went through it.
If you have a potential place you would like to start a new planting bed, look closely at the site. Assess how much sun it gets, is the soil poor? Drainage good? Anything growing there already? In my example, I checked the sun exposure at various times of the day to make sure that what I wanted to use it for would get enough sun. Match the plants to the hours of sun it will get each day. We wanted a good place for tomatoes and had very little sun in our backyard, so we decided to take advantage of the extra sun we were getting on the south side of our house. It's a small space, but you can grow quite a bit in a small space.