It's been a very hard week here in the garden. For one thing, we're dealing with quite an onslaught of winter moths. Have you seen lots of little inchworms hanging from silk threads this spring? They love maples, and are eating their way through the small red Norway maple in the back yard. I haven't noticed a big issue with the sugar maple or fruit trees out front, but it's probably just a matter of time.
They've been dive bombing out of the evergreen in the back yard also, presumably in search of greener pastures:
And they've found what they're looking for:
That used to be a young cabbage transplant, and almost all of them look like this now. I'd been stumped about what was eating them for a couple weeks: it's not loopers, and the damage to the stems isn't clean like a cutworm. Well, now I know. If we had known this was coming, we'd have put down the row cover as soon as we planted them. By now it might be too late. Bt spray should also help, but the plants are now so heavily damaged that we may have to start over with new seeds, which means no cabbage until the fall.
The broccoli has been nibbled, but it's farther from the tree and isn't quite as bad off. Yet.
And then there's this:
Notice all the clever cutworm collars strewn about the garden? When we went to bed last night, they were in neat rows around our newly-planted tomato plants. This morning, Kirk looked out to see a war zone in which every single tomato plant was pulled right out of the ground:
This was done with near surgical-precision: no scratched up digging marks, no tearing of the collars, and no tomato plants spared, even though they aren't all next to each other. The plants immediately next to the tomatoes were untouched.
What in the ever-loving HELL?
It really felt human, but that's pretty unlikely. If it happened in the dark, I'm betting a raccoon. If it was at dawn (or in the early evening while were we at Tiegan's band concert), it was probably a goddamn squirrel.
Not a single tomato plant was even nibbled on, so Kirk replanted them as quickly as he could. They don't all look so hot this afternoon, but many are fine. Good thing we have some extras waiting in the wings.
The worst part of the phantom animal attack is that it's just a painful reminder that we are without any protection from critters. Cheeky birds and chipmunks know it and are getting bold. More on this sad situation later.