Monday, June 20, 2011

Cauliflower and Killing

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This past weekend, I noticed that heads were forming on two of my Snow Crown cauliflower plants. At the moment, they are slightly smaller than a tennis ball.

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I read on the Johnny's website (where I purchased the seeds) that tying the outer leaves together helps to preserve the white curd color and results in better head quality when the curd develops in hot weather. I guess we'll find out soon enough if this works. (Just in case you're wondering - the white stuff is Dipel dust).

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GARDEN PEST UPDATE - When I got home tonight, I noticed that the six lettuces I transplanted yesterday were all decapitated! Not only that, three of my broccoli plants that I set out a couple of weeks ago (and growing very well) were taken down to the ground. And to add insult to injury, the foliage was stripped from half my soy beans! F$#*& A!@@$%$%!!!!!!!! My first instinct is to blame the squirrels or rabbits but as always it turns out to be the voles, field mice or whatever you wanna call these mother#%#$#@#! Looking out our bedroom window tonight, I actually saw one roaming around in plain sight near the damaged areas.

Anyway, I had trapped a vole inside my Havahart trap yesterday and was planning on driving it to the woods a mile away from our house today. Ironically, I realized after I got off the train from work that my car battery had died, which meant I had to call for roadside assistance. Needless to say, I was in no mood for compassion when I got home and saw the latest damage. So I drowned the sucker. That's right, I said it. I DROWNED the sucker. And surprising, I didn't feel all too bad about it. (Well maybe just a little.) Marc was horrified when I told him what I had done. At this point, I'm done fooling around. Mercy is for those who want to grow weeds. This latest bandit is going down!

28 comments:

  1. Oh Thomas, I feel your pain and I'm so sorry to hear about your pest troubles. After seeing what wild bunnies could do to my garden, I cheered on our dogs when one day they hunted one down in the backyard and played with it to death, literally. Sure, I felt a little guilty when I heard the bunny squeak under one of our dogs paws, but I just told myself that it's all part of the "natural" cycle.

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  2. We are living through a mouse plague at the moment I can empathise but I have to leave the drowning to my husband.

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  3. I think the slugs in my garden have finally died from the cold, but now I have some kind of rodent digging up every garden bed! We also trap and drown them, as well as bait all through the shed. I wish the dogs would take more interest in catching them!

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  4. THOMAS!

    (I'm laughing. I don't know why, but I am.)

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  5. Gardening hardens our hearts when it comes to pests. I haven't had to kill a warm blooded animal, but I'm getting to be a good bug squisher, and if the birds don't stay away from my berries, I'll consider a pellet gun. Or not.

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  6. I sympathize. There were time I wished I had a shotgun to aim at Miss Molly (I named my groundhog...) And I'm a die-hard vegetarian!!!
    But I have found a way to fool Molly: I draped my chicken wire fences with a few yards of burlap. There are lots of stray cats in the neighbourhood, so the groundhogs are uneasy if they can't see the predators coming.
    It works like a charm, and now the groundhogs only eat what I leave out for them.

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  7. "You need a good cat!"

    Problem is, there are few places outside of the inner city where a cat would be safe from coyotes in Massachusetts.

    Coyotes are an invasive and destructive species (says a cat lover!) that I think we should eliminate from populated areas. We need to cull the deer population too -- studies have shown that reducing deer to ~8/sq mile eliminates lime disease totally. [rant off]

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  8. Oh my what a day! I have had to drown a baby bunny that my cat was playing with. I just didn't look. It sounds like there is something bigger then voles eating your plants. I hope that you get things under control soon. I had a groundhog here three years ago and I was like a mad woman! I had traps every where! I even called a professional trapper in! I never did catch it...but found it's skeletal remains in my garage the next spring.

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  9. Can't say I blame you. When we start homesteading in earnest, there won't be much 'trapping and moving'.
    Hubby is from the South, where the only good varmint is a dead varmint.


    But I do understand what you feel. As a city girl, I know how hard it will be for me.
    *hugs* ♥

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  10. Thanks for your comments everyone. Robin, you'd be surprised. I had a vole last fall that wiped out my entire fall beet crop and took down three established chard plants that were HUGE. The sucks can be the size of small rats and are not to be underestimated!

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  11. I am not sure I am up to actually drowning them myself but I totally understand and am grateful my toothless cat seems to be able to catch enough of the voles from our garden as is necessary to keep them at manageable levels. We do have to bait and set traps for rats/mice under our house - as the nasty things move in periodically if we do not.

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  12. Eliot Coleman's vole control method:

    For vole control, Coleman builds small wooden boxes with a removable cover and with a mouse-sized hole on each of two sides. He places a set trap inside each hole (The Better Mousetrap, from Intruder, Inc., www.intruderinc.com) and adds a long handle for carrying the box. “Don’t use bait,” he advised. “Just spring the traps.” Voles eventually associate the smell of baits with the death of fellow voles; without bait, they encounter a “small dark hole that smells like vole” after the first vole has entered, and they enter the box and run into the trap. Empty the traps daily.

    I have something nibbling in my fenced in garden, too, and a groundhog eating my flowers. The havahart trap is baited, just waiting for a snacker!

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  13. Voles can be a nightmare. They get my hops every year. My choice is a .22 for vermin. I feel your pain, it's going to be a tough year for pests and diseases I think.

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  14. Drowning the sucker is a lot more humane than throwing it in the trash alive and letting the poor thing starve/thirst to death. I prefer those glue traps for mice (I hate the mess, or the mice that get caught but not killed with spring traps). I drown them in a bucket of water.

    I hadn't considered voles in my garden. My beans look suspiciously like your soy beans. We have a plethora of rabbits around here, so I thought it was Bugs Bunny, but maybe I'm wrong. I need a good barn cat!

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  15. Good for you! The only good rodent is a dead rodent, as far as I'm concerned!

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  16. Maybe you can farm your voles. If we eat bunny, why not eat garden-grown voles. Deboned and stuffed with sweet lettuces and herbs. Gently braised.

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  17. Good God, drowning animals like bunnies and voles, or using glue traps for mice is just plain cruel. I'm a gardener, too, and yes, i have voles running rampant, but I don't consider that a license to inflict a cruel death on these. I'm done here.

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  20. I'm a small farmer and currently dealing with raccoons eating my chickens and deer eating my market garden. I feel your pain. However, drowning is a long, slow, cruel death. I have to kill pests often but I always opt for the quickest most humane solution. For raccoons, I opt for a gun or shovel and for mice and voles I opt for a forceful bash of a heel, shovel or even breaking of the neck while wearing gloves. Drowning is cruel and unusual punishment. We work hard as a society to create more humane abattoirs, we should use the same logic for dispatching the pests invading our gardens and farms: quick and painless.

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  21. I feel a little less bad about the groundhog I killed that was eating my red cabbage (and everything else). Its interesting to hear that voles or field mice or whatever they are... are eating your plants. Drowning is a method Ive used very successfully when dealing with my groundhogs- not much else one can do when they are in a havahart trap and I don't own a gun or feel safe using one within close vicinity of my neighbors homes).

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  22. i know you love your garden, but that's just horrible.

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  23. I know exactly what you are going through and have absolutely no sympathy for the rodents that dare to cross your path. Lately I've been zapping at least one rat per night in my rat zappers, but nonetheless, I've put cloches and row cover over all the bean seedlings that I planted out today. The rats love new seedlings, but if I can get the plants to a rather more mature size they tend to leave them alone. Although, they have started in on the Calabrese broccoli, but that stuff refuses to grow properly so I'm inclined to let them go... It still infuriates me when I trap more of them under the hood of my car - damn, that new wiring harness wasn't cheap and I don't want to have to spring for another new one. YOU have my complete and utter sympathy! Death to garden munching (and car wiring munching) rodents!

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  24. Wow, I didn't realize this post would be so controversial! All I can say is, growing your own food definitely hardens you. I have trapped many chipmunks and squirrels in my havahart and have let them go (in parks far from our home). For some reason, I have waaaay less sympathy for voles, mice and rats. They breed like crazy and can take over a property. If you've ever lived in a Philadelphia townhouse, you will know what I'm talking about. Usually I use spring traps to deal with them. (Henbogle, I will definitely try your suggestion!) I can't say I'll never drown another vole again but will definitely consider it the option of last resort.

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  25. You know, if people had to actually live off the food they grew, they'd have no qualms exterminating the animals that destroy their crops/food. It's only because we CAN go to the grocery store and buy that head of broccoli that the bunny ate that we look for "trap and release" options. Which by the way, only moves the problem into someone else's garden.
    If fences/dogs, etc. don't work, then eliminating the offender is the only option--as long as you are not purposely torturing an animal, your method of dispatch is your choice.

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  26. i have had groundhogs take my garden down to the nub 3 times this year. I live in a corner sub division. No pets. I had to buy all new tomato plants...then finally i wrapped each indivual plant with a circle of chicken wire around the stakes. I had to make a 5 inch space in between 2 6ft tall chicken wire for the beans...its end of june and now the peas are finally 4 inches high...My DH wanted dto get an electrical fence and that was too cruel for me. I feel we are taking over their land..even though there are 4 empty lots next door..maybe try my method...and put floppy overhangs on the top of the chicken wire fence...they hate thta

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  27. You're really messed up. You killed a living thing because it was eating your garden? Sorry I think you need to get you priorities in check.

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