So I was sitting on the deck, just writing in my journal, and this little being came within a few feet, just looking at me. No fear, just curiosity. We live together in this beautiful place, and perhaps he/she is acknowledging that? Or saying “Thank you for the sunflower seeds, but why do you make them so hard to get in that crazy contraption?”
Meanwhile, our nocturnal digger has also returned, very politely avoiding the plants and digging up the paths. I am assuming it is our resident nearby skunk, though it is here earlier than last summer. This year I haven’t even been trying to straighten everything back again, unless it has dug a hole close to a plant. But as you can see, everything is getting lush and leafy–rhubarb, sea kale, turkish rocket along the back. Every tree is surrounded by herbs and clover.
This morning I wandered for an hour in the garden to feel the ground and do last minute care-taking before I fly to see my parents today. I planted some lovely basil that was a gift, watered the annual bed (and discovered some other little neighbor has eaten one of the broccoli seedlings–oh well I hope you enjoyed it), put more compost on the growing asparagus plants, and also watered the summer sweet bush cuttings that are temporarily in a pile of compost as well waiting to be planted. Margy will tend the garden while I am gone.
I am thinking of my dad today, my spirit is with his spirit during this journey. May this day be blessed with safe and smooth travels of whatever kind.
Look closely. Surprised to see her in the light of day, but I think this skunk was trying to make her way home, much to the chagrin of our neighbor’s dog. I don’t know if this is my gardening friend from last summer, but if not, I would guess it is a family member. She (or he?) is following her own corridor–how important these small stands of trees and shrubs are for our animal neighbors. But as to where she was headed–strange–under a fence or under a deck? Right into our human neighbor’s yard.
There were also some strange tracks in the snow two days ago in our yard. Bigger than the usual squirrel tracks–now I think that maybe they were hers as well. Margy took this photo. I read that skunks are rather inactive in winter, though not true hibernators. But they begin to be more active, looking for a mate in spring.
Tracks by Margy Dowzer
I had a revelation! I have been thinking I was having a tug of war with a groundhog, because despite the fact that I had been using a very potent deterrent liquid, each morning I would discover this mess around my cherry tree beds. But no more plants were being eaten. So what to do? I did more research and discovered that the mess in my garden was likely not caused by a groundhog at all. Because the digger is nocturnal, and groundhogs are not.
Rather, it is likely a skunk (who is a nocturnal digger) is rooting in the mulch for the grubs of Japanese beetles. And then I realized that the rooting appeared about the same time as the Japanese beetles on the cherry tree leaves (which I have been picking off and dumping in soapy water). So I don’t really have a digger problem, I have a grub problem. In fact, the skunk is helping get rid of the Japanese beetles. But I’ve ordered some Milky Spore disease to inoculate the soil to create a more permanent and organic solution to the Japanese beetle problem and that will eventually deal with the digger problem.
I learn so much every week about gardening, usually through problems. But I haven’t seen the groundhog lately! (Knock on wood chips.) Thank you, skunk!