groundhog resistant gardening

I’ve had a dilemma for several years now.

I love growing food.  I love the magic of start-with-nothing, end-with-nourishment.  I love growing green things, I love having my hands and feet in the dirt.  I do not wear gardening gloves, and I don’t at all mind having grit on my fingers.

There are two catches:

  1. I’m shit at keeping up with it.  As an intensive one of the things I do is work in fits and starts.  All enthusiasm for a week, and then forget for a month.  I need a timer if there’s going to be watering, because I will not remember.  I won’t weed unless I feel like it.  This could mean that the garden is on its own for a long time.  Some seasons I’ve dallied and fondled the plants a lot.  It all depends
  2. The groundhog.  The one who moved in halfway through my first season in this house, putting his secondary doorway right above my newly turned garden plot.

The solution to (1) is routine, love, not traveling much, and hardy plants.

The solution to (2), I’m told, is a .22, only I don’t have the heart.  Or the gun.  (The other solution is to surround the garden entirely, even underground, with fencing.  Dig down a foot, lay a cattle panel, wire a fence to the cattle panel, and then make sure your fence is four feet tall.)

So for three years I’ve let the garden lie fallow.  It was too disheartening to see my pea shoots nipped off at the base, basil chewed to the ground, squash half eaten and left to rot.  In that time the raspberries have started to take over (if anyone knows what to do about them, please let me know) and only the little circle of herbs at the center of the plot has really persisted.  There, the more fragile herbs died back this winter, unprotected by snow, but the chives are taking over and the lemon oregano is determinedly carrying on.

I want to replace the lavender, the sage, and the rosemary.  I’d like to add dill and coriander.  The groundhog seems to prefer lighter flavors.

But my real love is the idea that everything we tend, every bit of yard or garden, could be useful.  The Washington Post recently ran this article on historic gardening which I devoured, but even better, imagine if nearly all the pretty things also healed, or tasted good, or…had some use.

As it turns out, the pretty, sustainable, yummy things also do not require fencing for protection from the wild.

In fact, my yard is already planted with some, which the groundhog completely ignores.

So in service of the can’t-we-all-just-get-along gardeners in our midst, I’m going to start a list of groundhog resistant plants, meaning that MY groundhog has not seen fit to eat them in four years.

  1. Hostas.  Edible greens, young or old.  Groundhog seems indifferent.  So are the skunks, raccoons, and whoever else is visiting my bird feeder.  Here’s the article:
  2. Day lilies.  NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH REGULAR FLORIST EASTER-and-FUNERAL lilies, which will kill you.  Day lilies offer flower buds, flowers, and tubers.  Good for food, or the flowers are good as a thickener.  Flowers can also be stuffed and/or battered. Article here:
  3. chives
  4. oregano
  5. if you plant raspberries once they will take over your LIFE.  You have been warned.  I am trying to figure out how to kill some of them off, and I am not usually one to kill things.

I will update as I go.

Eating, a pleasure.

Growing your own food, magic.

Not having to go to the grocery store, priceless.