Mary Jo Gaush

I have been transplanting a few things in my yard since the weather has been so nice, and I got inspired to write a little about my thoughts on growing things.

If you’ve read my previous two articles, you know that I love to cook. Well, I also love to grow things to eat, and grow things to just admire for their beauty. I’m always learning, and the critters teach me a lot, namely a resident woodchuck, chipmunk, fox, deer, and rabbits.

People ask me if I have any animals, and I say, “I have plenty, I don’t need anymore.” They have all taught me that they like to eat what I like to eat. They have even taught me how to make better barriers to the food that I am trying to grow.

One year, not too long ago, I grew a lovely crop of peas in pots on my deck (I gave up growing things in a fenced-in area in my yard; the critters just climb over it. I’ll tell you about that later). The peas were lovely and just right for picking. I watched as the woodchuck, about the size of a football, agilely climbed over the quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth barrier that I had wrapped around the 5-gallon pot the peas were growing in. Even though the enclosure was 5-feet tall, the woodchuck, without any hesitation, leapt off the top edge of the hardware cloth like a sky diver into the mass of luscious peas. I was so enthralled with Mr. (or Mrs.) Chuck’s skill that it took me a few moments to react. I stepped out (I was watching from the family room door) and clapped my hands and told it to go away. That episode taught me that I needed to put a lid on top of the hardware cloth enclosure, which I did that same day.

Inside the mesh enclosure, I had put a tomato cage (something for the peas to climb). This tomato cage allowed me to wrap a square piece of quarter-inch hardware cloth around the top wrung, which fit perfectly inside the circular wrap and prevented any creature hellbent on destruction from entering. Thank you, Mr. (or Mrs.) Chuck. You taught me well!

As an epilogue, Mother Chuck and two babies trundled up my deck stairs not long afterward (the mother must have gotten wind of the sky diving episode) and proceeded to investigate. Luckily, I was close by and shouted very loudly to “get out of here!” They very calmly turned around and went back down the stairs, never to return (that I know of). I wish that I had taken a picture on my iPhone, but I felt that it was more important to let them know immediately that they were off limits.

You may ask why haven’t I gotten rid of these football-sized creatures. Well, at one point, very early on, I tried having someone more knowledgeable than me trap them, which was expensive and didn’t work. I found out the hard way that woodchucks keep away the skunks. On one hand, I thought, do I want to deal with skunks or do I want to live peaceably with the woodchucks. You guessed correctly on the outcome of that self discussion, “No to the skunks.”

A new crop of woodchucks investigate my deck every once in awhile, but they don’t find it very profitable.

Cages on my deck that protect what I’m growing

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