Mary's Veggie Garden

October 2, 2012

Harvest Monday 10/1/2012: He liked the squash, so he took it.

Filed under: Deer,Gardening,People,Pests,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 8:55 am

At noon yesterday we returned home from a week of travel. By 4PM I was at my community garden plot prepared to restock my refrigerator. After lots of restaurant meals containing very few vegetables, I was looking forward to a dinner salad of freshly harvested lettuce and the first of the fall snap peas.

As I untie the gate I notice something odd: the sweet potato bed is a miniature forest of leaf stems, but the leaves are missing. It looks exactly like the sweet potatoes at Locust Grove after the woodchuck attack. But my gate and the adjoining fence look intact with no digging.

The missing Rumbo squash before it grew legs.

Once inside the garden, I discover dozens of hoof prints in the soft soil of the bed next to the sweet potatoes: deer! My entire sweet potato crop is still underground: I’m praying the roots are not damaged by hooves. There is not a leaf left on the Swiss chard. The broccoli and the rest of the brassicas are OK but the heart is eaten out of a lettuce bunch. Then I raise my eyes to the peas. They are pruned back to their trellis fence – all the branches, tendrils and flowers gone. A glance around my perimeter fence reveals nothing wrong – it is still 7′  high all around with no sign a deer had gone over the top.

The squash leaves are also eaten, but the first squash is OK. I notice a white, 5-gallon bucket rolling around. Just a minute, that bucket had a purpose. Oh yeah, it was supporting a Rumbo squash hanging from the fence. There’s the vine but no squash, it’s completely missing. The next Rumbo is partially eaten and I can see the deer teeth marks.

Collateral damage: My biggest Rumbo, probably 20 pounds before the deer attacked. It weighed 14 pounds after I cut out the damage.

At the side gate I notice the top tie, the one at 6′, is not tied. Actually it is tied, but not through the netting of the gate so the top of the gate is flapping. Instead there is a red plastic zip (cable) tie at chest height holding the gate closed. The carrots next to the gate are trampled and a quarter of the foliage is eaten.

Here is the crime as I reconstruct it: Someone saw my Rumbo squashes and decided they wanted one. They entered by untying the side gate. They didn’t like the first squash either because it was too big, probably 20 pounds before the deer ate it, or because the coloring was strange – it was partly ripe and half-way between green and butterscotch. They couldn’t take the third squash because it, too, is hanging from the fence, and has grown to be one with the wire tomato cage I used to support it. So they left with the smallest Rumbo squash. After exiting they manged to tie the bottom ties of the gate but with the top of the gate open it was easy for a deer to leap through.  My neighbor dug his sweet potatoes while I was gone – the gate would have been flapping in his face when he passed on his way to the compost pile. He probably saw the damage and added the zip tie.

Oct. 1, 2012 harvest: L-R Tetsukabuto squashes, Moon & Stars watermelon, kohlrabi, spaghetti squash, Napa cabbage, butternut, carrots & beets, and on the right, all the damaged squashes.

I could almost forgive the thief for stealing the ugliest, smallest Rumbo, but there is no forgiving the complete loss of my fall snap peas. We are likely to have a hard freeze before the plants can recover.

All the damaged squashes are somewhat under-ripe so they cannot be stored to ripen. I’m cleaning them thoroughly and cooking them for soup and squash bread.

My harvest total for the year is 609 pounds. The squashes are really bumping it up.

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11 Comments »

  1. Yikes! How horrible. I am glad you could salvage something at least.

    Comment by Joan Trombini — October 2, 2012 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

  2. Mary,
    My heart goes out to you!!! You had to have that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you saw all that happened.

    Comment by Judy Killmer — October 2, 2012 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  3. I am so sorry to read about what happened to your garden. What a horrible feeling it must have been when you saw the sight,

    Comment by Norma Chang — October 2, 2012 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  4. That is very unfortunate. I hope some of the plants bounce back and give you something.

    Comment by Sustainably Modern — October 4, 2012 @ 7:33 am | Reply

  5. Oh dear, all that work! I don’t understand the thoughtless this takes to steal another persons produce.
    Do you?

    Happy Gardening

    Comment by Kim — October 8, 2012 @ 1:40 pm | Reply

    • No, I don’t. and it happens about once every second year. The real hurt was when the thief left the gate only partly tied.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — October 8, 2012 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  6. Hi Mary–
    Something similar went on in my garden. The gate was left wide open, and a ton of deer damage ensued. Back to padlocks next year!

    Comment by Linda — October 8, 2012 @ 6:52 pm | Reply


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