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Photo by Jessica Walliser
If you use a live trap to capture a groundhog, be sure to close the trap at night. Groundhogs feed only during the day, and if the trap is open at night you may catch a possum or, worse still, a skunk!
There is so much to do this time of year! I’ve been busy mulching all my beds and planting more spring crops. The first planting of radish and lettuce are already up, and I’ll probably have radish ready for harvest in another week or so—but I have a problem.
There’s an enormous groundhog living in our backyard. He tunneled under the fence, and I suspect it will only be a short time until he finds the vegetable garden. And once he finds it, keeping him out of the vegetable patch will be a battle unlike any other.
Groundhogs are proficient diggers, able climbers and particularly good at taking one bite out of every ripe tomato. It’s nearly impossible for a garden and a groundhog to coexist. Because I’m not a hunter, I will probably try first to trap him in a Havahart trap baited with slices of ripe cantaloupe or apples coated with peanut butter. Once it’s been trapped, I’ll call our local State Game Commission office to find out what to do with him. It’s illegal in my state to move a nuisance animal to a new site, so I suspect the game commission officer will take him away. If you too have a groundhog issue and hunting and/or trapping isn’t in the cards, there’s another way you can keep the groundhogs out of your veggie patch.
After conducting numerous tests, the folks at The Humane Society of America have determined the most reliable fencing solution to protect your garden without harming the hogs. Buy enough 6-foot-high, galvanized box-wire fencing and 4-foot-high metal stakes to surround your garden. Hammer in a stake every 6 to 8 feet. Fasten the fence to the outside of the stakes so that the lower 2 feet of fencing makes an L against the ground. (The L is formed to the outside of the garden.) Use U-shaped landscape pins to hold the outer edge in place. Fasten the fence to the stakes, but leave the top 18 inches loose by not attaching it to the stakes at all.
When the groundhog tries to dig under the fence, it won’t be able to burrow through the fence; and, when it tries to climb up, its body weight will cause the top of the fencing to flop down and fold over, knocking the hog off and (hopefully!) keeping him out of the garden.