Disney Cartoons or Evil Invasion?: a Gardeners Perspective on Nature

Back in the day when I was a city-slicker all my interactions with nature seemed to imitate Disney movies.  If I went on a hike and saw a deer I thought I was meeting  Bambi.  Those squeaky chipmunks in the park?  They must be Chip and Dale.  Even a fat caterpillar on a leaf seemed to just be waiting to unfurl its magnificent wings as in Fantasia.  

Cute little orphan or evil host-eater?

But then I left the city and started to garden and my perspective on nature started to change.  Suddenly I became more aware of the dark side of nature in Disney–afterall, even that juicy red apple could be laced with poison.  And even those cute ittle critters didn’t seem so innocent after-all–instead Bambi was devouring my hostas, Chip and Dale were picking through my tomatoes and that giant caterpillar was consuming all my plants from the ground up.  And it was my job to prevent them.

In truth, I’m a confirmed softy pacifist and hunting animals–real or animated–isn’t really in my nature (pun unintended).  But it’s hard not to aim an imaginary finger-gun at the deer that have no problem bounding over 10 foot fences and into the giant buffet that is my yard.  Believe me, vile-smelling sprays, silent alarms, ‘resistant plantings’, I’ve tried them all with limited (or short-lived success).  Let’s face it, other than daffodils, mint and bleeding-hearts, nothing is truly safe out there.  Then there are those little rodents–chipmunks, mice, gophers, rats–I’ve fought them all and let’s face it, they are just too darn clever and sneaky.  So far they’ve evaded the outrageously expensive fox and coyote urine granules, the traps (humane and otherwise) and all sorts of fencing.  And the caterpillars?   Let’s just say I was dancing with glee to note those little white rice-like grains protruding from the huge green hornworms that had been eating my tomato plants–these are eggs of parasitic wasps who will soon eat the caterpillars from inside out.  Gross (but ha ha!)

Hideous hornworm

The thing is, as much as I HATE, HATE, HATE these damn garden raiders when I find my perennials destroyed, my flowers devastated and my veggies devoured I also still sometime smile to see a delicate spotted fawn hiding under a bush or a little chipmunk hiding under a log in the woods.  I even think those hummingbird moths (which is what the hormworms become) are pretty darn cool.  After-all, it’s their world, we’re just hoping to grow things in it.

PRACTICAL TIP:  Is it just me, or do the chipmunks seem worse than ever this year?  And do they have to take a single bite of EVERY ripe tomato?  Just eat one already!  In desperation I asked my neighbor who owns the Seedswell farmstand what I can do to get them out of my garden now that everything else has failed.  She gave me this tip:  fill a bucket with water and top with birdseed.  Lean a plank from the ground to the top of the bucket–the chipmunks will use it to get to the seed and hopefully they will fall in and not be able to get out.  If you try this let me know how it works!

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