Honestly, there’s no point in being anything but resigned to reality. The painful truth is that critters like home-grown vegetables.

My garden had a good pest-free run. It had been ages since a possum raided my avocado tree or a bandicoot dug up my seedlings. Well, not ages maybe, but a week or 2 which I’ve learned to realise is an eternity is pest-free gardening. Then I went out and found this.

Squash nibbled overnight

Squash nibbled overnight

And this.

Stunted kohlrabi eaten overnight

Stunted kohlrabi eaten overnight

And this.

Heart of cabbage eaten overnight before head could form

Heart of cabbage eaten overnight before head could form

All this evidence materialised on the same morning. Was it a single perpetrator or did I have a pest party in my back yard? Where has it (they?) been while not destroying my crop?

Then, a couple of days after these photos were taken, I was doing my morning check of my veggies and I couldn’t find my watermelon. (Which is why I’m not including a watermelon photo here – I don’t have a watermelon to photograph!). My melon vines have grown like something out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales but produced very little fruit (I blame my bees who keep bypassing the melons for something tastier or healthier or more prolific or whatever). One watermelon split after a big rain and rotted but one was still there and growing (slowly). It had reached the size of a small melon – kind of like a balloon at a kid’s party – and was ripening nicely (or so I imagined). Then it was gone. It had to weigh a couple of kilos. What could have stolen it? Did it vanish in one night or did something return several nights in a row to eat bits at a time (I’ve definitely watched small squash and zucchini vanish that way). This one really has me stumped (and very very disappointed).

Whether all of this crop loss is the work of the possum, the bandicoot, a rat or marauding hordes of homeless vegans is immaterial, my plants are vanishing before my eyes and there’s not a darned thing I can do about it.

I do love my morning walks when I get to see what’s growing strong, what’s about to flower, where my bees are and what is almost ready to harvest. But sometimes it hurts when I see what visitors have done over night.

I’m holding onto the thought that, even with raids, my garden has continued to provide heaps of food for Frank and me. If we share a little bit with the local fauna, so be it. But why oh why my one watermelon? I know why, because it was ripening nicely. *sigh*


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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25 Responses to *sigh*

  1. vuchickens says:

    Bummer!!! And so weird about the watermelon! Are any of your chooks sporting extra round tummies? 😉

  2. Oh, we feel your pain. At a former house we had one year of lovely home-grown sweet corn (maize) straight from garden to pot. The next year the racoons discovered it and we never saw another ear.

    • I suspect your racoons and our possums are pretty much the same clever, capable and determined little beasts. It’s their good luck they are also cute or they’d be enemy number 1 for gardeners.

  3. Oh my! That is so frustrating! We had a vole come into our garden from underneath and destroy all our root veggies and also eat all our pea vines roots, killing them as well. It was very frustrating. Especially since we didn’t realize it was happening until after they had eaten 90% of the root veggies since we couldn’t see what was happening under the ground. As we build our new garden we are taking many precautions to try to prevent as much as possible in the pest department. But there is only so much you can do!
    Like you said, sometimes it comes down to sharing with the local wildlife. 🙂

    • The problem is the wildlife seems to like the vegetables I most love. Nothing is eating my beans but my watermelon has vanished. Darn them anyway.

      As for voles, we don’t have those here. We have a bandicoot that digs from grubs and uproots any plant in the way (last night it was a bunch of radishes). Sometimes, if the roots are really tasty, it eats them. But what can you do? How do you make a vole-proof veggie garden?

      • There isn’t a lot you can do to prevent a vole as far as I know. You could bury hardware cloth under the whole garden, which is a huge hassle and doesn’t always work either. We are considering lining the bottom of each of our raised beds with hardware cloth, but haven’t decided yet. It is a lot of extra work and cost and makes it harder to turn the soil and add in compost each year. But that vole did a number on our old garden and we had quite a loss that year. So we are still undecided.
        The vole moved into our garden the last gardening season before we moved to the new farm. I was very glad to leave him behind as we hadn’t found a way to deal with him yet (sorry for the new owners!). Just hope we don’t get one at the new farm once the garden is in.

        • Something tells me you left your resident vole out of the marketing campaign when you sold your house 🙂

          Yeah, putting cloth under every vegetable bed does sound like a lot of work. But if the option is to do all that gardening and then harvest nothing, maybe it’s a good idea. Or maybe you just have to keep moving – stay one house ahead of the little guys.

  4. Oh gosh it sounds sound as though you have some very well-fed wildlife in your garden. The bandicoots you can fence out but the possums seem to come from above so don’t know how you could deter them.

    • Well, I’m trying – kind of. I’ve put some old sheer curtains around my cabbages. 3 of the 6 have been eaten out by possums so something has to be done. I don’t think they like climbing up wobbly fabric so I’m hopeful. I’ve also pinned the fabric to the ground in a few spots to stop it (and the bandicoot) sneaking under. What I really need to do is build a nice, sturdy building and fill it with grow lights – that should thwart the thieves 🙂

  5. There, there! Maybe you better cage your melon with chicken wire! Protect your crops!

    • I can see my future – every afternoon I wrap each vegetable and piece of fruit in titanium mesh, every morning I unwrap it. Talk about labour intensive!

      • Cage an area only for fruit part..so you can still water them but you don’t have to do so much work unless you harvest them!

        Good luck!

        • But they eat all the vegetables and fruit. The possum climbs trees to get my avocadoes and the bandicoot squeezes under my chicken-wire fencing (I have my entire veggie garden surrounded by chicken wire to keep the chickens out – possums and bandicoots laugh at such pathetic attempts to keep them at bay). I’d have to wire off my entire garden and include a roof over the trees. Nope, not possible. I really have to learn to share with grace.

  6. cohutt says:

    I’ve had possums wander through but they never stop to eat anything that I know of.
    They liked the cherry laurel berries that dropped onto my back lawn (before the laurel dropped onto my lawn).

  7. that is a real shame, it looked so yummy! xxx you will have to go out hunting in the night for the culprit! x

  8. The enormity of your pest problems really puts nibbles from caterpillars into perspective. All I can suggest is to get an infra-red video camera to see what goes on in the garden at night time. It won’t help your pest problem but I’m sure it would be very entertaining.

  9. Linda says:

    I think I’ll take my poorly behaved squirrel pests any day over these guys…though I must admit, your possums are absolutely adorable compared to ours! It’d be hard to stay mad at those adorable little faces!

  10. Although on the bright side, no bee pests….. So, it’s not all bad!

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