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Post  MrBooker on 7/4/2018, 10:50 am

I went this morning and found my sweet potato plants almost eaten up. I've ruled out rabbits. Rabbits would have had to jump up into the container to eat the plants and I don't see that happening.

It could have been squirrels but I've ruled them out also. The plants were fine yesterday evening. Squirrels don't forage for food at night.

 My next suspect is deer. Reverting back to my former FBI experience,
(Farmer Boy from Illinois) .... What a Face,  We've lived here over 30 years and NEVER seen a deer in this town.

The matter of the destroyed sweet potato plants is still under investigation. 
What critter did this? Vines_12

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Post  hammock gal on 7/4/2018, 11:45 am

I've never grown sweet potatoes, so I don't know what kind of critters like to eat them, but I do know that if you don't see deer, it doesn't necessarily mean they're not there. I've only ever seen deer once in the almost 20 years that I've been in this house, but I've seen their hoof prints in the soft dirt of the lawn, and I've had the tops of day lily plants eaten at about a two foot height, the rest of the plant untouched. And then there are my hosta plants every fall. It's funny, they don't bother them all summer, but as fall approaches, they eat all of the leaves of my hosta plants, leaving the stems sticking up, kind of like the stems of your sweet potatoes. Here is a pic of the stems left after the deer have feasted. What critter did this? 9-9-0810
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Post  countrynaturals on 7/4/2018, 11:54 am

That's exactly what happened to mine last year. I settled on grasshoppers. If I ever grow them again (sweet potatoes, not grasshoppers Evil or Very Mad ), I will cover them with tulle very early on.
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Post  MrBooker on 7/4/2018, 12:01 pm

@countrynaturals wrote:That's exactly what happened to mine last year. I settled on grasshoppers. If I ever grow them again (sweet potatoes, not grasshoppers Evil or Very Mad ), I will cover them with tulle very early on.
Thanks for the info. I've been growing sweet potatoes in containers for about 3 years and had great success.  This has never happened before.

 I looked all around the containers for Rabbit or deer poo and tracks,  and found.nothing.
 I'll put my trail cam out tonight.

 OH... haven't seen any grasshoppers in the garden so far this year.
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Post  sanderson on 7/4/2018, 2:11 pm

It would be grasshopper in my yard.  No frass?

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Post  countrynaturals on 7/4/2018, 2:53 pm

@MrBooker wrote:
@countrynaturals wrote:That's exactly what happened to mine last year. I settled on grasshoppers. If I ever grow them again (sweet potatoes, not grasshoppers Evil or Very Mad ), I will cover them with tulle very early on.
Thanks for the info. I've been growing sweet potatoes in containers for about 3 years and had great success.  This has never happened before.

 I looked all around the containers for Rabbit or deer poo and tracks,  and found.nothing.
 I'll put my trail cam out tonight.

 OH... haven't seen any grasshoppers in the garden so far this year.
Same here. No evidence of anything. Not a chewed leaf, not a footprint, no scat, nothingMad  Sanderson suggested grasshoppers and I had seen a couple in other parts of the yard, so that's what I went with.  thinking
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Post  No_Such_Reality on 7/5/2018, 9:28 pm

I have to imagine the suburban IL is just as over run by deer as the metro area of Minneapolis.

That said, i wouldn't suspect grass hoppers as the leaves are all eaten off clearly at the stem.  No partially eaten leaves, no chewed holes.

Have you consider a foraging ground hog?  They climb enough to have no problem getting up onto a planter.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/5/2018, 10:20 pm

IMO,that is a mammal.  Coon, groundhog most likely.
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Post  MrBooker on 7/6/2018, 7:00 am

@Scorpio Rising wrote:IMO,that is a mammal.  Coon, groundhog most likely.
I think you and No_Such_Reality are right about the Groundhog. I researched "How to trap a Groundhog" and found this:

"One of the best foods to use for baiting your trap would be that which your groundhog steals from your garden. If you aren't sure, groundhogs are attracted to herbaceous green plants and sweet fruits - choose a ripe, nutrient-rich food or vegetable as bait."

  I have been trapping squirrels with "Havahart" live traps and relocating them back to the woods about 5 miles South of  me. The Havahart traps are WAY over priced. I bought two of them a few years ago at my local Rural King for $25 each. The Havahart website wants about $100 each. NO WAY.

   I built a "Box trap" from 2x8's and it works for catching squirrels also. I think if I build one bigger, it would work for Groundhogs.  Thanks..   Hope everyone had a good 4th of July.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/6/2018, 11:20 pm

@MrBooker wrote:
@Scorpio Rising wrote:IMO,that is a mammal.  Coon, groundhog most likely.
I think you and No_Such_Reality are right about the Groundhog. I researched "How to trap a Groundhog" and found this:

"One of the best foods to use for baiting your trap would be that which your groundhog steals from your garden. If you aren't sure, groundhogs are attracted to herbaceous green plants and sweet fruits - choose a ripe, nutrient-rich food or vegetable as bait."

  I have been trapping squirrels with "Havahart" live traps and relocating them back to the woods about 5 miles South of  me. The Havahart traps are WAY over priced. I bought two of them a few years ago at my local Rural King for $25 each. The Havahart website wants about $100 each. NO WAY.

   I built a "Box trap" from 2x8's and it works for catching squirrels also. I think if I build one bigger, it would work for Groundhogs.  Thanks..   Hope everyone had a good 4th of July.
Yeah, I have used Hav-A-Hart traps once or twice.  They work well.  No idea that their site wanted that kind of money for them!  Got mine at TSC.
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Post  MrBooker on 7/7/2018, 7:54 am

Whatever ate my sweet potato plants hasn't been back so far. I hope they survive. I felt down inside the containers and found a few nice size potatoes.
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Post  BlackjackWidow on 7/11/2018, 10:17 am

@MrBooker wrote:Whatever ate my sweet potato plants hasn't been back so far. I hope they survive. I felt down inside the containers and found a few nice size potatoes.

That was definitely a groundhog. Unfortunately, (s)he will probably be back after the leaves recover. I've been battling them for years, but this year kind of took the cake. Some before/after pics in my thread https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t22189p25-blackjackwidow-s-rural-gamble#281173 I have a limited data plan, so can't upload new pics right now, but I had several potted sweet potato slips waiting to go in, and he ate them down just like the ones in your pics.

In previous years, I've trapped and released groundhogs. Unfortunately, new ones just seem to show up and take over the same den. Or it's the same ones making their back. I relocated them about 5 miles away, in a wooded state-owned area across a creek and railroad tracks, but I've read that they can traverse back home from up to 20 miles away! 

My garden area is completely enclosed with a fence that is buried 2 feet deep in an "L" shape, to prevent them from burrowing underneath. There is nylon netting and landscape fabric laid under the beds, and all the aisles are covered with about 3"-4" of river pebbles. I had missed an area to cover with the rocks, behind one of the water barrels. It had a 6" layer of mulch in about an 8"x 12" rectangle (forgot I ran out of the rocks and never went back to cover it). The hog was able to push one of the corners of the fence away from the garage wall and lay waste to my garden, then found this mulched area and burrowed down through the nylon net and had to go at least 3 or 4 feet down to get a tunnel underneath - I found the exit about 20 yards away in the middle of the slope that leads to the creek in the back yard. 

I've fixed the corners so they can't get through there, added a "floppy" chicken wire top to the fence so they can't climb over, filled in the hole and covered it with 50 lbs of rock, and started putting corn and seed out under the bird feeders again. I've also been sprinkling blood meal and critter repellent around the fence line and at the entrances to the tunnels that he's conveniently placed near the garden. None of the "repellent plants" seemed to bother him at all - onions, garlic, chives, etc. He doesn't eat them, but he doesn't mind tromping on them, either. 

I think I have finally distracted him and his family enough, and gave them something easier to get to than the garden, but the real test will be if I can successfully grow lettuce in there now. My poor little swiss chard that was eaten to the soil line 3 times has finally recovered and has 3 leaves on it that are about 6 inches tall. I don't think I'll get much if anything from it, but I'm leaving it front and center to gauge the strength of my fortifications. 

With your beautiful yard and gardens, I don't know how you would protect everything. I guess you could construct fencing around the barrels, but you really need to bury it and then flop the top foot or so. I would certainly try relocating; at least this is the first year you've found them, so you might be able to get rid of them. I would identify the tunnels (there will be at least 3 entrances placed around), drop some blood meal at the entrances and then fill them in as best you can, completely closing off the entrances. Hopefully that will help keep new ones from moving into the neighborhood.

Keep us posted! Anything that works for you will be something I'd like to try Smile
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Post  MrBooker on 7/11/2018, 10:56 am

@BlackjackWidow wrote:
@MrBooker wrote:Whatever ate my sweet potato plants hasn't been back so far. I hope they survive. I felt down inside the containers and found a few nice size potatoes.

That was definitely a groundhog. Unfortunately, (s)he will probably be back after the leaves recover. I've been battling them for years, but this year kind of took the cake. Some before/after pics in my thread https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t22189p25-blackjackwidow-s-rural-gamble#281173 I have a limited data plan, so can't upload new pics right now, but I had several potted sweet potato slips waiting to go in, and he ate them down just like the ones in your pics.

In previous years, I've trapped and released groundhogs. Unfortunately, new ones just seem to show up and take over the same den. Or it's the same ones making their back. I relocated them about 5 miles away, in a wooded state-owned area across a creek and railroad tracks, but I've read that they can traverse back home from up to 20 miles away! 

My garden area is completely enclosed with a fence that is buried 2 feet deep in an "L" shape, to prevent them from burrowing underneath. There is nylon netting and landscape fabric laid under the beds, and all the aisles are covered with about 3"-4" of river pebbles. I had missed an area to cover with the rocks, behind one of the water barrels. It had a 6" layer of mulch in about an 8"x 12" rectangle (forgot I ran out of the rocks and never went back to cover it). The hog was able to push one of the corners of the fence away from the garage wall and lay waste to my garden, then found this mulched area and burrowed down through the nylon net and had to go at least 3 or 4 feet down to get a tunnel underneath - I found the exit about 20 yards away in the middle of the slope that leads to the creek in the back yard. 

I've fixed the corners so they can't get through there, added a "floppy" chicken wire top to the fence so they can't climb over, filled in the hole and covered it with 50 lbs of rock, and started putting corn and seed out under the bird feeders again. I've also been sprinkling blood meal and critter repellent around the fence line and at the entrances to the tunnels that he's conveniently placed near the garden. None of the "repellent plants" seemed to bother him at all - onions, garlic, chives, etc. He doesn't eat them, but he doesn't mind tromping on them, either. 

I think I have finally distracted him and his family enough, and gave them something easier to get to than the garden, but the real test will be if I can successfully grow lettuce in there now. My poor little swiss chard that was eaten to the soil line 3 times has finally recovered and has 3 leaves on it that are about 6 inches tall. I don't think I'll get much if anything from it, but I'm leaving it front and center to gauge the strength of my fortifications. 

With your beautiful yard and gardens, I don't know how you would protect everything. I guess you could construct fencing around the barrels, but you really need to bury it and then flop the top foot or so. I would certainly try relocating; at least this is the first year you've found them, so you might be able to get rid of them. I would identify the tunnels (there will be at least 3 entrances placed around), drop some blood meal at the entrances and then fill them in as best you can, completely closing off the entrances. Hopefully that will help keep new ones from moving into the neighborhood.

Keep us posted! Anything that works for you will be something I'd like to try Smile
I fully agree. It is a groundhog. My wife has an old garden book that says to mix the blood
meal with 2 parts water and put it a lid or something and place it by your plants. The book also says groundhogs cannot stand the smell of red or black pepper.

 Another remedy is Ammonia. It says to fill a juice bottle with Ammonia then bury it up to the neck in the garden. If none of these work.... I'm pretty sure my Ruger 10/22 will.
Thanks.   (I'm on the hunt)
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Post  BlackjackWidow on 7/11/2018, 11:20 am

@MrBooker wrote:

I fully agree. It is a groundhog. My wife has an old garden book that says to mix the blood
meal with 2 parts water and put it a lid or something and place it by your plants. The book also says groundhogs cannot stand the smell of red or black pepper.

 Another remedy is Ammonia. It says to fill a juice bottle with Ammonia then bury it up to the neck in the garden. If none of these work.... I'm pretty sure my Ruger 10/22 will.
Thanks.   (I'm on the hunt)

I tried red pepper flakes and ground cayenne pepper, didn't really seem to phase them. I like the idea of mixing the blood meal & placing next to the plants, but I'm wondering if it would need to be somehow in a trough around them. Mine seem to just go around a barrier and keep trucking.

I poured a bucket of ammonia water down the entrance to the nearest tunnel, which was right next to the corner he was using to get in; I had the extreme pleasure of seeing him jump straight in the air and run like crazy away from it when he tried to enter it. Made my heart warm to see the terror  Razz. But of course, once it rained, it wasn't effective anymore.

My dear departed husband would be using the Ruger, too. He did use those smoke bombs one year, it's really amazing to think you've identified all the tunnels, only to see columns of smoke start to rise all over the perimeter of the yard. I'm pretty sure mine have a labyrinth of condos across the whole property, now. I just can't personally stand to kill wildlife (as long as they stay outside). But I probably wouldn't be running out to protect them if some angel of death appeared to take them all out for me.  tongue
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Post  sanderson on 7/13/2018, 4:06 am

@BlackjackWidow wrote:
@MrBooker wrote:

I fully agree. It is a groundhog.

My dear departed husband . . . did use those smoke bombs one year, it's really amazing to think you've identified all the tunnels, only to see columns of smoke start to rise all over the perimeter of the yard.  tongue
Yes, my husband played Caddy Shack sticking a couple smoke bombs in the holes. Smoke cam up everywhere, even next door!

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Post  MrBooker on 7/13/2018, 10:14 am

@MrBooker wrote:I went this morning and found my sweet potato plants almost eaten up. I've ruled out rabbits. Rabbits would have had to jump up into the container to eat the plants and I don't see that happening.

It could have been squirrels but I've ruled them out also. The plants were fine yesterday evening. Squirrels don't forage for food at night.

 My next suspect is deer. Reverting back to my former FBI experience,
(Farmer Boy from Illinois) .... What a Face,  We've lived here over 30 years and NEVER seen a deer in this town.

The matter of the destroyed sweet potato plants is still under investigation. 
What critter did this? Vines_12

What critter did this? Vines_10

What critter did this? Vines_11
Sweet potato's are recovering:
What critter did this? 100_4010
What critter did this? 100_4011
What critter did this? Fe4e6 God Bless America What critter did this? Fe4e6
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Post  MrBooker on 7/19/2018, 7:38 am

@BlackjackWidow wrote:
@MrBooker wrote:Whatever ate my sweet potato plants hasn't been back so far. I hope they survive. I felt down inside the containers and found a few nice size potatoes.

That was definitely a groundhog. Unfortunately, (s)he will probably be back after the leaves recover.
Blackjackwidow: You were 100% correct. The critter came back a few nights ago and did even MORE damage than the last time. The war is ON... Twisted Evil

 Yesterday, I noticed that something had dug a hole under the corner of my shed. I suspect whatever got my plants is living under the shed. Yesterday, I laid a stick across the hole blocking the entry. Last evening, the stick was GONE. The critter had to move the stick to enter.

I soaked a RAT trap in bottled water to remove the scent, wore rubber gloves and set the trap (attached to a wire) at the entrance to the hole. I know the rat trap won't hold a groundhog for long but it WILL send a message. If it doesn't get THIS message, I'm pretty sure he'll get the NEXT one. (Nuclear option) 

PICS OF THE DAMAGE:
What critter did this? 100_4013
What critter did this? 100_4014
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Post  sanderson on 7/19/2018, 1:50 pm

Sad

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Post  MrBooker on 7/20/2018, 7:18 am

@sanderson wrote:Sad
I told my neighbor that I suspected a groundhog was eating my sweet potato vines. He said he had taken pics of a groundhog near the back of my shed and that he had the pics on his cell phone.
I asked him to email me the pics and here they are:
What critter did this? Ground13
What critter did this? Ground14
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Post  sanderson on 7/21/2018, 12:07 am

Nailed him.

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Post  MrBooker on 7/21/2018, 5:10 am

@sanderson wrote:Nailed him.
I hope I can get him in the trap. Yesterday morning I had a possum in the trap.
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Post  countrynaturals on 7/26/2018, 10:34 am

Finally solved my mystery. It was deer. They got my strawberries last night and left plenty of evidence. The damage was exactly the same as last year's sweet potato attack, except that they didn't leave any clues that time.  Evil or Very Mad
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What critter did this? Empty Recovering Sweet potatoes

Post  MrBooker on 8/17/2018, 9:07 am

@MrBooker wrote:I went this morning and found my sweet potato plants almost eaten up. I've ruled out rabbits. Rabbits would have had to jump up into the container to eat the plants and I don't see that happening.

It could have been squirrels but I've ruled them out also. The plants were fine yesterday evening. Squirrels don't forage for food at night.

 My next suspect is deer. Reverting back to my former FBI experience,
(Farmer Boy from Illinois) .... What a Face,  We've lived here over 30 years and NEVER seen a deer in this town.

The matter of the destroyed sweet potato plants is still under investigation. 
What critter did this? Vines_12

What critter did this? Vines_10

What critter did this? Vines_11

What critter did this? Fe4e6 God Bless America What critter did this? Fe4e6

  My Sweet taters have recovered from the Ground Hog attack about six weeks ago. They look even more beautiful than they did before the attack.
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