Ack, I’ve been hit!

Woe is me, a night marauder visited my garden last night. A small critter like a baby opossum has been digging in my lovely raised beds several nights in a row. It would dig up a seedling or two and I would transplant it back into the soil the next day. It dug up my newly sprouted garlic several times, that seeming to be a favorite corner of the bed for it to dig up.

I’ve been expecting the dang thing to move to another yard soon, as urban wildlife does in this area (coastal southern California). But NOOOOOOO! Baby brought Big Momma or Big Daddy last night. Instead of delicate holes here and there in the bed, the entire bed is turned over. Compost is in piles everwhere and spilled out of the bed. Even the plant tags were buried under mounds of nice, fresh, soft compost.

I didn’t have the heart to photograph the wanton destruction of Raised Bed #1. It’s wrecked. The varmit dug up all of my newly planted Lollo Rossa lettuce, Lucullus chard, Danvers Half-long carrots, Hollow Top parsnips, garlic, the Aristocrat zucchini that had flower buds on it, and even my two tomato transplants were were a decent size and beginning to flower. I’m devastated. It didn’t eat them, it just dug. I guess it was looking for good-smelling stuff in the nice fresh compost.

I sifted through the compost and recovered some of the seedlings. Their roots were still moist, so I just planted them back into the bed after smoothing it out. I lost all of the lettuce, most of the parsnips, and over half of the garlic, chard and carrots in my square foot garden. I replanted the two tomatoes and the squash, but they look pretty bedraggled.

This is war! I’m baiting the live trap and setting it out tonight. When I catch that miserable varmit, be it an opossum or raccoon, it goes to the other side of Huntington Beach’s big central park and becomes someone else’s problem. Grrrrr!

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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20 Responses to Ack, I’ve been hit!

  1. Tonie says:

    Lou,
    If caught, cook it….my grandmother would have….love you all…Geo wants to know if you are going to make some fresh mayonnaise with some of your eggs? T

    • Hi Tonie. My Dad would have cooked it too, but I’m not going there. You’re supposed to feed the opossum on cornmeal mush for a couple of days or weeks, can’t remember, to improve the taste. Then you roast it with sweet potatoes. Nope, too southern a dish for me. I have no plans to make homemade mayonnaise, or anything else with raw eggs. Too risky I think. I don’t even eat cookie dough any more! Now that’s radical.

  2. villager says:

    Well, I can surely sympathize. I’ve had to relocate 3 groundhogs, 4 opossums and several rabbits since I moved in 3 years ago. The deer & squirrels are another story, we just have to deal with them.

    Good luck with your varmint control!

    • Hi Villager. Sounds like you’ve had your share of varmits too. Or are they varmints? Dunno. Either way, I don’t want them eating my fruits and digging in my vegetable garden. Ironically, my yard is a certified wildlife habitat, but they’re supposed to know what’s for them and what’s for me.

  3. Nell Jean says:

    it goes to the other side of Huntington Beach’s big central park and becomes someone else’s problem.

    That’s probably how it came to your garden: relocated by some tender soul on the other side of the park who didn’t want to dispatch it. It sounds like the work of armadillos to me.

    • Funny, Nell Jean. Naw, the dang opossums are very abundant in Huntington Beach. It’s illegal to kill them, even though they’re not native to this area. We don’t have armadillos. No deer either. Those are two things I don’t have to worry about.

  4. Thomas says:

    You’ll have to show me what your trap looks like…I’ve yet to catch my varmint!

    • Hi Thomas, my live trap is a big one for raccoons and opossums. Your critter would go right through the bars of the cage. I thought it terribly ironic that I read about your rodent’s destruction of your garden and then go out to find mine trashed. Must be the season of the witch. (old song)

  5. Turling says:

    Good God, that is horrible. We lived in Huntington Beach until four years ago. Oppossums were a real problem there by Golden West College, as well. Fully covered with chicken wire was the only thing to keep them out. Be sure it’s nailed down along the edges, or they will work their way through it. Unfortunately, the Huntington Beach Police Department frowns upon shooting them with a .22. Don’t ask how I know that.

  6. mac says:

    Oh my, that’s terrible and very deflating, that’s what we gardeners have to put up sometimes.

    When we lived in Anaheim Hills we used to have opossums crashing through the wrought iron gate making lots of noise, at first we thought it was some stupid burglar until we saw 3 big huge critters looking at us through the glass door!!! Well, I did not grew veggies at that time, but they went for the swimming pool water, one of them drowned. Every now and then we get drowned raccoons, rats, opossums, in our pool. My favorite was the migrating geese, sometimes a few of them would dropped by and took a rest in the pool.

  7. I had an armadillo do that once. I have found that chilli pepper spread liberally will keep all mammalian critters at bay. It burns their eyes.

  8. Brenda K says:

    Aaaah!!! I feel your pain! That’s got to be one of the most infuriating things – leaving for work in the morning and finding a freshly planted garden bed trashed….Thankfully, garden predators are relatively scarce here in the downtown core (knocking wood!), but the neighborhood cats are the usual suspects that regularly ransack my tiny urban vegetable jungle. As much as I love kitties (have four of my own indoor babies), I now understand why there are people who detest them. I do however appreciate the deterrent effect their presence has on rodents and birds mowing down my seedlings though, so I’m working on a viable cat management strategy. Best of luck to you with your critter incursion!

  9. bangchik says:

    I sympathize with you, when everything turned upside down…. ~bangchik

  10. Daphne says:

    So sorry to hear about your critter woes. I hate when the local squirrels dig up my garden in the spring. Luckily for me that is the worst digger I’ve had so far.

    • Hi Daphne. Squirrels can be a nuisance too. Fox squirrels aren’t native here, but someone introduced them into LA in the early 1900s. We now have them in HB, and sometimes they come into my yard. They don’t cause any damage though. Possums are a whole ‘nother story. They’re not native here either. Wish we could eradicate them.

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