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The snow finally melted (again) this past week, the sun came out, the rains began, and I am getting the itch, really bad. It’s now the end of March and I have not gotten dirt under my nails since October. Friends, that is what we call a dry spell. As you can imagine, the first opportunity I had to schlep on my garden boots and explore, I did. And guess what I found? Vermin, big and small.

Over the past year I have had a less-than-lukewarm relationship with my neighbor, let’s call him (or her!) Jason, like in Friday the 13th (and lets hope that is not said neighbor’s real name). Jason got on my bad side initially because he refused to keep his dogs (2, plural, large) in his yard. His dogs, true-to-form, prefer our wild, weedy lawn for their business over Jason’s golf course manicured green. I get it, from the dogs’ perspective, but as a dog-less landowner I desperately want this to stop. It causes a level of rage I usually save up for outlet shopping sprees. And yes, I have asked Jason to kindly keep his dogs on his property. He said he has been trying to retrain them. I guess “retrain” means let-them-out-unleashed-when-I-think-you-are-not-home. Because, all evidence is against his training technique. When the snow melted there was, ahem, “evidence” of the dogs being on my front lawn, in the back lawn, in my garden, under the fruit trees, in the berry canes, and pretty much everywhere except on HIS property. Being as how I am such a pleasant neighbor (false) and I am not going to complain to the city (CFO won’t let me), I decided to take action into my own hands.


Don’t worry it’s not poisonous. And, more importantly, it’s garden safe and orangic. Critter Ridder is a mixture of red pepper, capsaicin and black pepper, a combination that tends to turn away dogs, raccoons, coyotes, and other damaging critters. I hope it works, because my Plan B is to kidnap the dogs, retrain them MY way, and collect the reward money when I “find” them.

The one critter that Critter Ridder may not be effective on is the almighty vole. Yes, gardening compatriots, there is such a thing as a vole, and it is shrouded in mystery and invisibility, but it does this to your grass:

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Truthfully, I thought this was evidence of snakes under our deck, which is far more terrifying. A little helpful advice from family and Google, I have learned that these are mouse-sized terrors to anything with a seed, bulb or grain. Fortunately, their selected spot is home to the butterfly garden, unfortunately, it is only paces away from the herb garden. Action is warranted.


In the same purchase order as the Critter Ridder, I got myself two Havahart live-traps. Why, you ask, don’t I just poison/drown/snap-trap them and be done with it? The same reason why I am not allowed to pellet-gun the chipmunk as he reclines on our deck: I showed CFO too many internet pictures of voles being adorable. I plan to catch and release these guys. No decision on whether release will be in Lake Michigan or a nice park. Check back in a few weeks.

In other news, the slow melting of the snow has caused a delay in my compost delivery, which means a delay in planting the raised beds. I estimate I am only a week behind, but that week is one less week of fresh produce. To compensate, I put some cole crop seeds (broccoli, cauliflower and kale) into coconut coir cups with a bit of soil/compost mix and set those into a $20 metal and plastic tower, a poor man’s cold frame/greenhouse, if you will. Hopefully in a few weeks I can pop these into their future homes when the compost finally arrives to fill the beds. Time is the cruelest vermin in the garden.





I am already planning for the inevitable onslaught of cabbage worms.

Spring is here when Jessica looks like she lost a bar fight.

Spring is here when Jessica looks like she lost a bar fight.