woodchuck eating squash plant leaves

cearabJune 23, 2008

OK, I have never grown vegetables other than tomatoes before. This season I put in 2 yellow and 2 green squash plants. Two of the plants are in my garden next to my patio and they are fine, but the other 2 are more on the outside of the garden and I have a resident woodchuck that I think has been eating the leaves off the plants.

Usually he stays out in the yard, but I have caught him twice right in the garden, which is mostly perennials with a few tomato plants growing in it. The leaves on one of the zucchini plants are completely gone, with just the stalks showing. He's chomped down on some of the leaves of one of the other plants as well. I know this sounds ignorant, but will these plants grow vegetables without leaves and will the woodchuck eat the vegetables that grow?

He has occasionally come into the garden to take tomatoes over the last few years. For the record, this woodchuck has lived out back in a very sububran neighborhood for at least 7 years and he is huge. Mostly he just eats weeds and the grass, but he's getting braver now in coming close to the house where the garden is located. What to do here?

Thanks

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buck1173

there's a 50/50 chance its a she, and she's going to be breeding more brave woodchucks.

the ones in my backyard are pretty brazen too, they roam through my garden and eat the strawberries and gnashed my chamomile and peas and lettuces down to nothing... I had to pull them out. I put a mediocre fence up and they just plow right through it.

They pass my summer squash to get at the other goodies. But not nice to hear they're eating yours, as squash and some toms eggplant & pepper is all thats left in that bed now, thanks to them.

they also went after my horseradish and ate every leaf off, I had to fence that in (its in a pot) to try to save it. Last week, I caught one trying to climb into the pot.

Best advice is to trap & relocate if you can (if legal) Ideal bait is a ripe peach. Many people shoot them, but I cannot.

Otherwise, keep your lawn mowed down tight and stay on top of it.... I notice the most activity when the lawn is allowed to grow... they come in to graze.... when I mow, they have less cover and less reasons to come to my backyard.

good luck... I hate groundhogs/chucks

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 4:08PM
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macmex

Many gardeners I know, in NJ have large live traps. They trap the animals and get rid of them. Unfortunately, in NJ, it is against the law to transport and release a wild animal. You might have to call animal control to "take him away."

Woodchucks multiply at an incredible rate and, due to lack of control in NJ, they have become a plague. You might consider springing for a large live trap and having it on hand. I'm native NJ and last lived there from 2001 - 2005. I trapped about ten per year, which mostly kept them out of the garden.

The only other option I can think of would be to do an Internet search on electrified mesh (often used to protect poultry) and setting that around the perimeter of your garden. He'd touch it once or twice and decide to graze somewhere else.

George
Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 4:11PM
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susaneden(5)

When I was a kid, woodchucks ate our garden down to the roots--everything!

Trap & relocate if you can. My dad just shot them all.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 4:44PM
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city_tomato

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 5:20PM
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cearab

Thank you everyone. New development. There is a fat chipmunk in my garden. I saw him yesterday and this morning, and just a few minutes ago I saw him jump on a morning dove eating some seed on the ground from the bird feeder. Could he also be the culprit eating the leaves?
And again, will he eat vegetables?
My little dog, who is an incredible hunter for 12 lbs, has been frantic for a few weeks over a spot that is just outside my fence, at the corner of my mud porch brick wall. He keeps barking, pawing, whining and telling me to come look at that spot. 2 years ago I believe a chipmunk made a home in there. I swear I saw him run up into that spot one day. The dog is obsessed with watching that area, and if he gets the chipmunk will dispatch it quickly. Last summer he killed a half dozen voles in the garden.
I don't think there is anyway to keep a chipmunk out of this garden, and to be honest, I don't want to kill him or the old woodchuck. If the woodchuck were younger, I would trap him and take him out the pine barrens and release him. I just respect this old guy because he's been around for so long. I would like to have at least one zucchini this summer though...

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 12:04PM
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lolly_gardener(9)

My nemesis are squirrels from my backyard. Since I have huge oak trees behind my backyard fence I have a feeling I have unending supply of squirrels. This year they started eating squash leaves, zucchini leaves, peas, beans, anything green that I planted. I cannot kill them either. Trapping and relocating is not possible. So I caged my plants. I built frames with pvc pipes and put 1" mesh and put the cage around the plants. So far it seems to be working (touch wood!). Some squash plants stripped of leaves died, some are coming back to life.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 1:10PM
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lama26(5b)

OK, I don't have any wisdom to offer but have a question. Does this mean garden fencing does not work? I was consdering building a raised bed next year and lining it with chicken wire/garden fencing and bringing the fencing up 3-4 feet on all sides, and draping bird netting over the top. We have gophers,rabbits, mice, crows, ravens, an occasional coyote, and most likely other stuff I have not seen. The gophers and rabbits are all over our property, holes and hills everywhere, to the point that I may break down and let the kids and hubby get a dog. If next summer comes, and there is no dog, will the fencing just not work?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 1:17PM
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macmex

Fencing often doesn't work for squirrels, chipmunks and ground hogs. They climb. But any fence is better than no fence. Most critters follow the path of least resistance, and if they don't know what's on the other side, a cheap/flimsy fence will sometimes do the trick. Once they know, it's going to take a lot more to keep them out. This same principle applies very much to deer.

A dog, or in some cases (like squirrels & chipmunks) a cat, can be wonderful for keeping critters away. a ground hog would have most cats for lunch. They are TOUCH critters! But a dog, after it has killed one groundhog, will become a fanatic about it. I once had a Gorden Setter who would kill three groundhogs in one swipe.

George

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 1:39PM
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lama26(5b)

Ah, thanks. A dog is sounding good right about now. I have seen deer about a mile from here, where people have 5 acres instead of my wide open 2 acres, but that is not to say they don't wander through at night.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 4:35PM
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dangould

here is a fun video on getting groundhogs.

http://www.rodenator.com/videos.htm

here is a place that sells traps and all supplies.

http://www.wildlifecontrolsupplies.com/Merchant2/4.20/00000002/catalog/c7.html

Here is a link that might be useful: fun video

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 10:33PM
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dangould

this is better

http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=rodenator#

Here is a link that might be useful: this is better video.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 10:36PM
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bumble_doodle(Z5 CT)

cearab, I feel your pain! Last year I planted my first garden - and had my first experience with the woodchuck living under our shed. It mowed down all my squash and cucumber leaves. The plants came back but were not great producers.

My solution? This year I hung 5 gal. buckets from shepherd's hooks and secured them to the pool fence. I also planted another 12+ buckets and raised them up off the ground. Big mistake. Last night I went out to pick some peas and notice 6 of the lower buckets (all zucchini & cucumber) were nothing but green sticks - no leaves at all! Apparently a woodchuck can climb a couple of feet, balance on about an inch of shelf space and munch away. Who knew?

I have since moved all of the munched plants to the shepherds hooks and hope for recovery. All of the peppers & tomatoes are now in the lower area as the woodchuck seems to pass on those.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 8:54AM
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susaneden(5)

My dad shot the last woodchuck from our infestation over 30 years ago--it was 10+ feet up in a pear tree, eating little green pears.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 2:15PM
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whynotmi(5/6)

Hmm, you might try the old hot pepper trick. Sprinkle/spray your veggies with hot pepper oil or powder. If the critter doesn't like the "hot" it may stop chewing your plants. You do have to reapply fairly often. Especially during rainy periods.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 2:41PM
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bklyn2pok(6)

The deer fencing I now have enclosing my cucumbers seems to have done the trick so far. This is the 4th year I've grown cukes and the first time I've had something eat the leaves. Usually Thor the Woodchuck leaves me alone but my next door neighbor isn't gardening this year so I'm getting all of the critters.

And something also ate my basil, that's a first.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 2:44PM
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cearab

Thanks. I will give the hot pepper a try. Is that cayenne pepper (dry) that you use?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 9:26AM
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cateyanne(zone 5/6 Northern Ohio)

I have a similar problem. My summer squash is disappearing! when the veggies are about 2-3" they disappear off the vine. The rest of the plant is undisturbed, so it can't be something as destructive as a woodchuck. I have seen plenty of squirrels in the yard. Is this possible?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 3:00PM
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macmex

Yes it is. Can you tell if they where chewed off the stem?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 3:25PM
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happyday(WI4a)

Dangould...Rodenator

COOL! I want one! Does that music play in the background when you use it? :D

Here is a link that might be useful: poof

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 3:39PM
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happyday(WI4a)

Funny one. Everybody gets in on the fun!

Here is a link that might be useful: Funny one

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 3:55PM
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cateyanne(zone 5/6 Northern Ohio)

I can see stems that look as if there was once squash on it. whatever is eating it is a very delicate eater. I thought it would be rabbits, but i have beans and lettuces that are untouched.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 10:58AM
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dangould

The rodenator movies make me laugh. Unfortunately they are wicked expensive. I have not found a video where they use it on the woodchuck. but it obviously should work.

I drop dog poop down the woodchuck holes and they leave. I can only guess they want to be clean and do not want the dog poop in their burrow. They do not want to walk over it.

This does not really get rid of them since they are still alive and can dig another hole. But it does help in the immediate area. I also have a golden retriever dog running around that helps keep the burrows out of the yard anyway.

I have my garden inside a fenced area where the dog can run. Unfortunately the dog steps on plants. not much real damage however.

But I know just outside the fence is the land of the groundhogs. They rule the outside of the fence and my dog rules the inside hopefully. the groundhogs definitely go right through the fence. so it helps to let the dog out early in the morning and late toward dusk. Also keep them out as much as possible so they do not know there is anything inside the fence.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 1:50PM
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crossd

will voles eat squash or butternut squash roots?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 12:54PM
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bumble_doodle(Z5 CT)

Does anybody out there know how high/far and woodchuck can climb/jump? Can they climb up a smooth 4ft aluminum pool fence? It seemed too smooth to climb so I thought I'd be safe hanging my cukes from the fence. The buckets are probably about 5ft off the ground and somehow the woodchuck is still eating all the leaves off my plants. I'm already planning on an electric fence for next year but I'd like to minimize the damage to this year's crop. The cayenne pepper and fence aren't doing the trick. I'm starting to feel like Chevy Chase here....

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 2:57PM
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fearless_fred

I don't thikn my problem is woodchucks, but something is chewing the growth ends and leaves off my Japanese cucumber, while leaving my other cucumber plants (unknown type) alone. I tried cayenne pepper but I had more leaves and tips on the groung today. Maybe my critters are from the Southwest... So this evening I tried a new weapon -- hot pepper wax spray. I'll see if it helps/stops the chewing. There's not much left to chew.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 9:34PM
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gaetanol(z6NY)

Wed, Jun 25, 08 bklyn2pok wrote:

"The deer fencing I now have enclosing my cucumbers seems to have done the trick so far."

Good luck with the deer fence. It that's the thin plastic type they sell at HD, I found out the hard way that a groundhog can chew through that. I went away for a week and found a hole in the fence and a traumatized garden. That bugger had eatenall my lettuce, decimated my broccoli, left me only stems on my chard, and even exfoliated 2 hearty egglants. My next step is to put a metal fence around my deer fence.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 10:18AM
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dangould

do a search on garden web.

Here is a link that might be useful: woodchuck solutions

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 11:03AM
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