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Hartselle Enquirer

Four-legged garden thieves

It doesn’t take a fruit and vegetable grower long to figure out the obstacles he faces in growing and harvesting a successful crop.

The weather, for instance, is a risk over which he has no control. A wet spring delays soil preparation and planting in a timely manner and shortens the growing season. A drought prevents root growth and causes plants to wither and die prematurely. Irrigation can be a lifesaver but is a costly alternative to rainwater.

Another risk the grower has to contend with is losses associated with harmful insects and diseases. Often hard to identify, they are costly to control and increase production costs.

Varmints are another culprit and, if allowed to exist, can become the grower’s worst enemy.

I was made aware of the destructiveness of squirrels recently when they invaded a couple of rows of Trucker’s Favorite corn in my garden. They paid no attention to the corn, as it was growing taller and maturing. However, they moved in after I pulled a dozen ears and prepared it for our own use. 

The next day, I noticed the ears on a couple of stalks had been shredded and eaten. My first thought was that birds were the guilty party. The second day several more ears were eaten, and my attention turned to squirrels when I spotted a trio of them running across the back yard in the direction of my garden. Then I caught one sitting one on a stalk eating his lunch. He barked at me before jumping down and scampering away.

In a week’s time, I was left with nothing but shredded shucks and clean corncobs on 200 stalks of corn.

Ironically, I stopped trying to grow corn in my garden four or five years ago after losing my entire crop to corn-loving raccoons. After trapping one and turning it over to the animal shelter, I was told the varmints are protected and can’t be euthanized. Their promise was to relocate it outside the city limits. 

Growing corn appears to be off limits again unless I can come up with a legal way to eliminate the squirrel population from my property.

Eva

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