The Crazy Things We Do As Gardeners – My Havahart Trap Results

Since my garden has taken on a second life, I have been keeping the Havahart trap armed and ready for action.  I’ve come a long way since catching that first woodchuck.  I no longer scream when I discover a critter inside the trap.  I have a process down that when I see that I’ve trapped something, I call this man who comes over and removes the critter to a place far, far away.  I still am too scared to release the critter by myself.   I also have the perfect recipe down to put inside the trap–two chunks of cantaloupe, two chunks of apple, a carrot, a stalk of celery and two cabbage leaves by the entrance to entice the critter to enter the trap versus the garden.  It seems to be working although recently I’ve mixed into racoons versus woodchucks.  I know what kind of destruction a woodchuck can create in a garden.  What about the racoons?  Does anyone have garden issues caused by racoons?  I can’t say I’ve ever heard of garden woes caused by racoons, but I’m sure there are stories.  At best, the racoons have gotten into our garbage can and made a mess, but I have never seen them among the rows of vegetables out in my backyard.

There is a part of me though that is still sad every time the man takes the animals away.  It’s sort of a feeling that I’m putting the balance of nature in my backyard out of whack.  That I’m disrupting some sort of backyard ecological balance.  Isn’t nature all about survival of the fittest?  I’ve read stories on other blogs of people battling nature in order to grow a garden, so I know I’m not alone.  I guess it’s just another one of the tough and crazy decisions you have to make when you start a garden.

Garden Wives’ Tale Or Fact?

I’ve always believed that getting the best results out of gardening starts with simply listening to all the advice that exists out there and then just doing what feels natural.  You do what feels right in the pit of your stomach.  Sometimes this feeling makes you do things that no one has told you to do and might seem a little crazy to the ordinary man, but you decide to do them anyway.  Most of the time, following your gut helps yield successful results.  It makes you feel that you know best about what works in your garden.  You are one with the soil.  When doing something out of the ordinary gets you great results, you begin to share your ideas with others and you hope that they will follow what you are telling them.  Sometimes you feel like a scientist when doling out your advice and sometimes you feel like a quack.  I realized that there really aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules out there for gardeners, but there is loads of advice.  This weekend I started to think about all the gardening advice I have received over the years and then I started to wonder how much of this advice was simply old wives’ tales that I have been told time and time again and how much of the advice that I follow was based on fact?

Most of the wives’ tales I know about the garden came from my Grandma.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those old gardening tips that are sort of urban legend, like a proverb, and are generally passed down by an older generation to a younger generation.  Such “tales” usually consist of superstition, folklore or unverified claims with exaggerated and/or untrue details.  I can think of two things that I was always told to do in the garden by my Grandma that I’m not sure helps or not.  Garden wives’ tale or not, that is the question!

The first is to always remove all “suckers” from your tomato plants because all of the plant’s energy will go to the “sucker” and not to the growing fruit.  A “sucker” is the little stem that grows out from between two healthier stems.  Think of it as a little stem that is growing from the middle of stems that are in a “V” formation.  I think this makes sense and I do it all the time.  Too many branches on the tomato would require more energy to keep the branches alive and growing.  By simply pinching the “suckers” off, less energy is utilized for stem production and this energy instead goes into the making of a tomato that is bigger, sweeter and juicier than if you didn’t attend to those little “suckers”.  So in my garden, you will always see perfect “V” formation tomato stems.  Also, think back to the old days when I’d be in the tomato patch with my Grandma and she was screaming out “SUCKERS” for all to hear!
WIVES’ TALE OR FACT:          FACT–in my humble opinion

My Grandma’s next rule had to do with toads in the garden.  Finding a toad in your garden was one of the luckiest things she could imagine.  I agree in concept that toads eat bugs and so having a toad or two in the garden is helpful in keeping the bug population down.  However, my Grandma said if you ever removed a toad from your garden, your garden would suffer from blight.  To her, toads were like her garden soldiers.  Toads were good luck and you didn’t want to curse yourself by removing one and making it angry.  For whatever reason, my garden is a toad haven.  Even though I don’t really believe the curse warning, I never remove one.  Why take such a risk?  I have enough problems in the garden with woodchucks and all of that.  Why would I deliberately try to anger my toads and make them whip up a nasty curse?

WIVES’ TALE OR FACT:          TALE

So suckers and toads are a couple of the wives’ tales/facts I remember related to the garden.  Sure there were others I remember not pertaining to the garden (i.e., Never sleep with the curtains open when the moon is full.  If a moon beam hits you, you turn crazy.), but that’s another post.  Are there other garden wives’ tales out there or any hard and fast facts that we should all adopt in our routines?  If you have one, leave a comment and let me know what it is.  This Summer, I’m needing all the help I can get when it comes to gardening.

Critter Alert – Another One

This is not the greatest way to start your Sunday.  When the Saint animal control guy first came to the house to remove the woodchuck I had caught in my Havahart trap, he said that where there is one, there are several.  Guess what, he was right!

Let’s start the story from where we last left off with our woodchuck gossip.  As a precaution to keep what’s left of my garden in a healthy state, I have continued setting my trap as much as possible to deter my new woodchuck neighbors.  Several plants have snapped back after being eaten by a woodchuck earlier in July and I vowed to keep it that way.  Last weekend, the food that I had loaded the trap with came up missing with nothing to show for it.  I had actually seen a chipmunk run in and bring out a piece of cantaloupe, so I figured that the food was going out in that manner–to an animal very light in weight so that it doesn’t trip the trap, but crafty enough to get the bait out.

This Sunday morning, I woke up and looked out the window as I do every morning that the trap is set.  The door was closed!  I crept out in pajamas and my garden boots.  I listened for any sounds coming out of the trap–silence.  I lightly kicked the trap.  If you were inside a cage and trapped and then someone kicked the trap, wouldn’t you run around a little or at least give out a scream?  I got zip.  So I took my scissors and cut open the black contractor bag I had placed around the trap.  Look at what was on the other side looking at me………

Woodchuck #2!

#2 is much smaller than #1 and less crazy.  Less crazy meaning #2 isn’t slamming itself against the trap door to try to escape.  I have to say that I am still not brave enough to pick up the trap and empty it, but I was less crazed than the first time I caught one.  Who knows, by the time I catch #6 in my trap, I might be a real frontier man.  I could live with the Laura Ingalls Wilder family on Plum Creek and trap my own food and drink water out of a stream.  Who am I kidding?  I’ll never be like that….and please God, don’t let there be 6!