Wednesday, August 27, 2008

petty crimes and little criminals

This is a very dramatic garden story that involves wanton destruction, spying, nasty rumours and even poison...
The story involves the flower beds and pots that I planted up in front of my apartment building. Naturally it attracted lots of attention. And almost immediately, nasty holes appeared in the new flower beds, plants were dislodged and blame had to laid at somebody's door.

(note clue to poison in photo at the feet of the pot...!)

I had my suspicions it might be critters of some sort. After all, squirrels and raccoons thrive in urban and suburban spaces with impunity. Some people blamed kids in the neighborhood. Some even named names of this or that particular child! So, the war began and one or two tenants began to watch out for the culprits.
Discussions took place and advice was sought. Expert opinions were solicited. And the news was brought back to me that a consensus was emerging that is was the squirrels.
Unfortunately, along with the opinions as to the culprits, many suggestions for remedies were also dispensed. Then, unfortunately, the solution most tenaciously embraced and held by one of the tenants who is most deeply invested (besides me) in guardianship of the little garden is also the most offensive solution (to me, at least): mothballs.
Yup, you heard me. Mothballs were promptly purchased and liberally sprinkled all over the flower beds.

Now, it is rather questionable if the mothballs deter the squirrels even a little bit. But, they are replenished regularly after rains, etc. by our self-appointed guardian. The merest hint that the squirrels are digging and throwing dirt and plants around less today than yesterday is firmly added to the pro side. Evidence that the squirrels merely dig, just as vigorously as before, only in locations between mothballs, only gets added to the pro side as well. In fact, I'm beginning to fear that The Guardian would cover the flower beds in mothballs until they are as white snowbanks, if given the slightest encouragement.
(note evidence of squirrels digging between mothballs!)

Now, my concerns about mothballs being toxic to animals and children aside, I despise the smell. No worries! The Guardian sits on the front step, entertained by the comings and goings of the neighborhood, all the while happily inhaling the mothball smell which she confesses to love! Oh dear...
I think it's wonderful that my wee garden is of any interest at all (even somewhat important!) to some of the tenants. And that The Guardian has taken such an ownership of the welfare of the garden is a good thing...but I'm becoming increasingly worried that sitting out there inhaling the noxious fumes might be doing funny things to her mind....
...meanwhile, I continue to periodically toddle out there to scrape the soil off the lawn back into the flower beds... I'm thinking I must buy some more mulch... the last few rain-less days have been hard on the new beds and flower pots...and it seems like the beds that are mulched have suffered much less in the maurauding, digging-raids of the squirrels! In other words, I'm drawing my own conclusions!
(note protective mulch in flower beds! white stuff at top of photo are from shattered roses only -- not more mothballs!)

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Blogger guild-rez said...

Hello Kati.
As for the squirrels, Bloodmeal really works. It is a fertilizer very high in nitrogen and squirrels hate the smell.
Bloodmeal is available from your local garden nurseries.
Needs to be applied again.
- Cheers.

6:17 a.m.  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

.... eeee.... mothballs, really? Yikes!

That said, in spite of the sabotage your fledgling garden has endured in its first year, it's looking very pretty!

12:32 p.m.  
Blogger earlysnowdrop said...

Such gardening intrigue. Thanks for sharing your story. I struggle with critters...and I think it is squirrels as well, helping themselves to my garden's harvest of tomatoes and eggplant.

5:13 p.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

I'll try bloodmeal, guild-rez! Thanks for the suggestion.

Kim, I'm enjoying the garden too, even though it's still a bit raw and new. Oddly enough (very hard for me to understand!), there are a few who think it's way too much! Reminds me of a newspaper article I read recently comparing the front garden of Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel with that of Jack Layton and Olivia Chow, here in Canada. 3 guesses as to which one I preferred! ha ha ha

earlysnowdrop, my little neighbor across the hall planted tomatoes. She now has a fat, green plastic snake in the garden that she strategically moves around to keep the squirrels away from the tomatoes. That solution just might be working. This morning, I spied several tomatoes looking just about ready to pick -- so far unmolested!

11:05 p.m.  

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