My Garden And Its Nemesis

groundhog tomatoesWe are in the 4th year of tending to a vegetable garden in our back yard. I’m still a gardening novice, but I’m always learning to do better and over the years I’ve been able to get some good crops of the various easy to grow varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruits. In years past, I’ve had some awesome tomatoes, endless zucchini, numerous varieties of peppers, some squashes and then my herbs are always flourishing.

I have my routine down of  regular garden watering and harvesting, pulling weeds, and picking my various ripe zucchinis and peppers. In recent weeks, I’ve been lamented my “fallen soldiers”, otherwise known as my broccoli plants and all my lettuce that something had quite obviously got to and eaten them down to the nub. Then I took inventory of almost a dozen green tomatoes just about ready to ripen and turn red and my thoughts turned to my homemade  salsa, fresh caprese  salads, and hopes of homemade tomato sauces to put in my freezer. There is nothing more tasty and flavorful than tomatoes from your own garden. It is one of my favorite things to have in the summer.

Imagine my surprise when I go down to water one morning, finding all those tomatoes that should have been ripe and ready to pick, completely gone, with a few remnants on the ground of fallen tomatoes that someone had made a meal out of. I still had a few more green ones on the vine so I was ok with the temporary set back. Until yesterday, when I caught the culprit red handed and found almost a dozen more tomatoes gone (many of them were still green). Now I’m pissed.

No, not cute. They're pests.

No, not cute. They’re pests.

Who is it, you ask?  Oh I know exactly who it is, as I’ve had to chase him out of my garden more than a few times. He is a groundhog (at least I think it’s a “he”), and he has got to go. Not only has he taken all my tomatoes (except for a few grape tomatoes), he is the same one that has feasted on all my broccoli plants, and all my lettuce, spinach, and peas. He has got to go.

So now I need to find ways to either repel the groundhog or humane ways to get rid of him.  I’m not into personally handling wild animals, so the trap and release many miles away thing is out. I guess the next most logical things is to put up little fencing round my garden boxes that are Groundhog proof. What a pain.

I would love to know what other gardeners do to get rid of groundhogs or other wild animal pests. Wish there was some sort of plant or material that would just naturally repel them. I’ve dealt with squash bugs, hornworm, and other pests and know keep them under wraps. But to keep this wild pest out of my yard, it might take putting up a new solid fence around our yard, which is not exactly in the budget right now. 🙁

sad tomato

My one sad tomato

Oh well. I have one sad little tomato that I have managed to salvage so far. As you can see (pictured left) it is really ugly and sad looking. Just keeping my fingers crossed that I can save a few more and make the homemade salsa I have been intensely craving. I might have to settle for some store-bought ones, and it is just not the same.


Dear Santa

Dear Santa, Define "Naughty"

A certain 3 1/2 year old boy has been really pushing the limits of “nice” this holiday season. It is still up in the air whether Santa will be leaving anything beyond coal. We shall see.

But really, it is hard to be mad at that little face for too long.

Potty Training Pain

toilet training

Doesn’t look so scary, right?

Potty training sucks. Everyone loves to keep telling me that boys are the most difficult. Well my son is definitely proving that to be true. Difficult barely begins to cover it.  I keep asking my friends to remind me that no kid goes away to college still in diapers. I have been having a hard time believing that my 3 year old won’t break that trend.

It all started just before he was 2 and a half. I was pregnant with #2 and he was showing signs that he was ready for the potty. Heck, at preschool he was asking his teachers to go to the potty like some of his friends. So we were excited, thinking we would have him trained in no-time, before the baby arrived. Our excitement turned to angst, as the boy who was so willing to use the potty at first, suddenly started outright refusing to even sit on the potty at all. I mean, screaming fits, running, yelling, crying, etc. It was so frustrating. Since the baby was coming soon, we had to take a break to ease the transition to having the new baby at home. So we took the pressure off for a few months.

In June, I was bound and determined to get this potty thing done. He was 3 years old now, and he needed to be trained by the fall for school. I got the book “Potty Training Boys” to see if I can get an edge (that book is only OK). I decided to just ditch the diapers during the day. So I have spent the last several weeks cleaning up lots of messes. First week, he would fight me tooth and nail to even go near the potty. I think it is mostly because he didn’t want to stop playing to go use the potty. He would just pee on the floor right where he was. I tried every reward under the sun. I started a sticker chart. I cheered and jumped up and down like a crazy person when he was successful. But it still was a fight. And he would still go hide and make accidents.

I got serious and started setting a timer and getting the kid on there at regular intervals. At first I met more resistance, but then we kind-of made it a game. Then I found that lollipops seemed to garner the most motivation. After about 3 weeks of timers and sporadic messes, I think we have finally turned the corner. He has finally made the connection when he feels he needs to pee and will even go do that on his own. He’s even transitioned to standing. I dare say that he has mastered that piece of the puzzle (during the day).

Poop is another story. And I am tired of cleaning it up. I know we are getting there, but it is TOUGH. He is a stubborn little boy that marches to the beat of his own drum. And as frustrating as it is, that is part of what I love so much about him. We will get there. There will no be packing of pampers for college. Right?