Skip to main content

Who's Eating Our Plants?

May contain: person, human, outdoors, housing, building, porch, potted plant, pottery, jar, vase, plant, yard, and nature

Our lovely flower beds and bountiful raised kitchen beds have been the victims of mysterious vandals. Flowers and vegetables were eaten down to the stem! Without leaves, the plants can't survive. You can't either, for that matter. Did you know that the leaves make food for the entire plant? In a process called photosynthesis, plant leaves combine water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide to produce sugar and oxygen! The sugar travels through the plant's veins (phloem) to nourish every cell. The oxygen is released into the air where we use it to breathe!

We suspected the many wild turkeys who visit the site each afternoon but could never find the telltale droppings they would leave behind. So, we set up cameras for a few days, aiming them at the ground. They failed to capture video of a single vandal! Then, we noticed a few holes quite a distance away from the beds, possibly ground squirrel tunnels. Upon further inspection of our beds, we found ground squirrel holes hidden under our squash plants. It seems the ground squirrels were sneaking into the garden beds hidden from view and building their burrows deep under our plants. A produce buffet was right above their homes, making it easy for breaskfast in bed! These hungry critters found quite a feast in our gardens.

Luckily, handyman Dave Alling figured out a solution. He installed wire mesh below the surface of the beds to prevent the squirrels from digging downward into them. Then, just to outsmart them even more, he built some amazing squirrel-proof and turkey-proof covers for the beds. The covers have removable panels to allow our students and volunteers access to the plants. The critters will still have plenty of food in our wild habitat surrounding the site, as well as from our nut trees, but we will be able to reap the harvest from our hard work!