Weeding Out Groundhogs


By Dane Feldman

Photos by Dane Feldman.

This time of year is a rather busy one at my house mostly because my family spends so much time coaxing our garden to life. Like most springs, we begin with arugula and butter lettuce, followed by pole beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and assorted peppers.

Unfortunately, this spring my family has been waging warfare against a local groundhog. The creature is living in our neighbor’s backyard and spends its free time eating every last inch of our swiss chard, demolishing our pole beans, and threatening to flatten our tomatoes. It had even somehow opened the gate to the area where the pole beans grew.

In fact, I was originally planning to write about how to plant pole beans, only to discover that our pole beans are no longer.

After agonizing over the loss of our swiss chard and worrying over the existing tomatoes, my family decided it was time to take some more serious steps. But if the groundhog could open the gate to the vegetables, how were we supposed to succeed in keeping our vegetation alive and well?

So, a trip to the local Home Depot resulted in some plastic fencing that we could cut into small sections and place around our tomato plants. We promptly did so about a week ago and our plants have already begun to grow back and are looking rather healthy.

For those of you worried about a similar encounter, be it with a groundhog, deer, or squirrels, the fencing seems to be doing wonders for the plants. If you have hesitated, now is the time to plant your tomatoes in the Northeast. We planted ours about six weeks ago and even with the groundhog setback, the plants should be producing fully grown tomatoes in about a month. Planting yours now should mean an abundance of tomatoes by mid-August.

I wish I could say that our war with the groundhog is over, but this isn’t the first time we’ve had problems. About a year ago, we had a groundhog living under our shed that managed not only to eat all of our basil, but it shattered the pot, too.

Of course, this is life in the woodsy suburbia, but we take our tomatoes quite seriously.