Helen Chesnut's Garden Notes: Helpful Tips for Dealing with Critters in the Garden

Helen Chesnut’s Garden Notes: Helpful Tips for Dealing with Critters in the Garden

After my comments in recent columns about suspected raccoons sleeping on carrots and nibbling random hare in the garden, “critter” mail has begun to arrive, with some helpful advice.

Steve wrote with this account of the raccoons in his garden: “Your story of potential suspects in the carrot patch reminded me of my experience with raccoons. I didn’t mind a family of four raccoons feeding on the cherries in my tree this year, but I was worried when they showed interest With my beloved blueberry berries. After I read that raccoons do not like certain smells, I spread used coffee around the cultivation of berries and added small jars of vinegar. These actions seem to work!”

Rabbit tale. A series of rabbit notes arrived from Michael: “When I noticed the young kidney beans losing their leaves, I blamed them on cutworms, but when preventive measures against them failed, I checked my rabbit fence, which I thought was perfectly safe. However, I found a place A small one where a little rabbit could crawl in. Connecting this thing worked, but I set up my wildlife cam and made sure the little devil was snooping around where he was wandering.

“My large garden and gardener are fenced with deer, but the vegetable garden area had to be fenced in with rabbits as well. Where was my forbidden owl when I needed it?”

Fences for owls and rabbits. Michael’s account reminded me of one of the great rabbit years in my neighborhood. Rabbits are everywhere. and owls. Huge owls perch silently on large trees and bushes near the kitchen windows. She was so wonderful and impressive, especially as she swooped down from her seats in eerie silence.

That summer, I awoke from a deep sleep one night to a terrifying scream in my back garden. Rabbit, I think, taken by one of the owls.

In places where rabbits abound, important food plants need to be secured with a ban fence ideally 60 cm high and dug into the ground 10 to 15 cm deep. Rabbits can jump, and they can hide in the ground. The mesh size should not be more than 2.5 cm. Chicken wire is useful for this.

Food and flowers. They were worth the wait, those fresh, succulent crumbs dotting the tomatoes kept on the patio. Varieties that routinely began maturing in mid-July were two weeks late this summer—and I enjoyed the wait the most.

At some point every August, I give up trying to keep everything tidy and properly supported. Sometimes this dispensing produces magical results.

Early in the summer, I kept stems of my patio tomatoes with meager stakes. Failure to continue to do so reduced tomato-laden growth from pot racks to rest among containers of blooming petunias below, for a somewhat attractive display.

Squash Magazine. A few of my Italian (Romanesco) zucchini were a bit warped this summer, but they were still delicious, with the typical nutty flavour.

There were two other types of summer squash that were close to perfect. Again this year, Dima, a pale green-skinned Middle Eastern squash spotted with cream that is pointed in shape and slightly plump, has produced a beautiful, creamy-textured squash that is traditionally eaten very small or left to grow larger for stuffing.

I am a fan of Italian climbing squash, whose different strains are known by different names. In recent years, I’ve had a hard time producing really good, fruitful vines. This year I tried a new version for me – Trombetta di Albenga, from Renee’s Garden. Like all of the Renee seeds I’ve planted this year, this one has exploded into vigorous growth to produce the kind of plant growth gardeners dream of. The leafy vines are now full of tall, slender fruits that resemble ornaments.

This is a wonderful cutting gourd, in which all the seeds are collected at the far end of the flower. The flesh is firm, with a bit of an artichoke flavour. Unlike many types of zucchini, they do not become mushy when cooked.

garden event

VHS meeting. The Victoria Horticultural Society will meet on Tuesday, September 6, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Garth Homer Centre, 813 Darwin Ave. Andy McKinnon, co-author of the Mushrooms of British Columbia Guidebook, will talk about mushrooms and fungi. Masks are required at Garth Homer Center. Non-member registration fee is $5. For more information visit vichortsociety.org.

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