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Old 05-12-2019, 03:32 PM   #1
WebSlave
More varmints!

So this year I decided to try my hand again at growing some watermelons. Haven't had much luck in the past, but I'm trying things a little differently this time and hoping for the best. Planted two mounds in the area near some fruit trees, one of a variety called "Giant" and another of "Congo". This area gets a lot of sunlight, since it is a bit more open than the rest of our property. Put another section back behind the garage in one of Connie's raised bed planters. This area gets some direct sun, but the garage tends to block the harsher afternoon sun somewhat.

Anyway, the other day Connie saw that the mound with the Congo watermelon plants just starting to come up got torn up and destroyed by something. I figured probably armadillos, possums, rabbits, deer or maybe even raccoons digging around in the mound. Surprisingly, the other two areas weren't touched, even though the mound with the Giant variety had much larger plants coming up already.

So I put out the game camera to see if I could capture images of what was going on out there.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHHW-x0Drl0

I have to admit, I NEVER expected to see a couple of foxes there dancing around on that mound. What in the world they find so fascinating with that planted mound just beats the heck out of me. Basically just sand mixed with Miracle Grow planting medium, and the seeds. But they apparently are out there every night. Got one plant coming back, and I planted a few more Congo seeds just a day ago, just to see if they will make it without getting torn up too.

Anyway, I like having the foxes around, as they might be helping to keep the squirrel population in check somewhat, but not too keen on them going after the turkey chicks nor messing with my watermelon plants.
 
Old 05-12-2019, 05:46 PM   #2
JColt
Must be a scent in the miracle grow that attracts them. You can try sprinkling chili powder around and see if it discourages them.
 
Old 05-12-2019, 06:18 PM   #3
WebSlave
Perhaps, but kind of odd that the other two plantings are using the exact same medium. One of the mounds is only about 12 ft. away from the mound they are dancing about on.

Didn't have any of the foxes paying any attention to the mound last night, so maybe they have gotten this out of their system now.

Did have a rabbit right around that mound, but never went right up to it. And that was before I spotted a fox just trotting up the driveway towards the gate to the right. So if it were the scent of the rabbit the foxes were interested in, I would have thought it would be nosing around that same area.

Been pulling some ripening peaches off of one of the trees the last few days, trying to get them before the varmints discover them and ravage the tree. Other two trees should be ripening soon. Of course, makes it a challenge walking down there with the yellow flies dive bombing me the entire way and back. They seem to just know when both of my hands are full. And they will bite right through my shirt like it isn't even there.

I am becoming a big fan of selective extinction.
 
Old 05-12-2019, 07:17 PM   #4
JColt
My neighbor always has a garden going and I can always hear him complaining about squirrels, opossums, raccoons and the occasional cat crapping in the bed. I say, my wife buys that stuff in the store and doesn't complain or get sunburned.

My old boss had an asparagus patch that was large enough to feed a small country. He had to fence it in and added electric to it because of deer and gophers. Every week he would cuss those animals out. Come to find out his wife or grown children would not eat it. I asked why he didn't grow anything else and his wife said, he kills everything else. He looked ready to kill her, lol.
 
Old 05-12-2019, 07:52 PM   #5
WebSlave
Yeah, I hear that!

We used to have a lot of roadside sellers every late Spring and early Summer selling fresh watermelons along the road, but that seems to be rarer and rarer every year. Just don't see them around like we used to, for some reason. If we had a steady supply of them during prime season, then heck, yeah, that would be the way to go. Nothing like getting all hot and sweaty working out in the yard and then sitting out on the screen enclosed side porch eating cold slices of watermelon to cool down.

But even so, changing the focus to the citrus trees, NOTHING we can get at the grocery stores comes even close to the home grown citrus we grow here. The tangerines in the local grocery stores are pitiful looking (small) compared to ours and the taste so bland that we just don't even buy store bought tangerines any longer. The lemons at the store are so tiny that Connie and I laugh at them whenever we see them. Her trees produce these huge monsters that she likes so much (not keen on lemons myself) that I can't remember the last time she got a store bought lemon.

The only time we have problems with varmints in the citrus trees is every now and again a possum will get a taste for some of the "Changsha" tangerines.
 
Old 05-13-2019, 07:50 AM   #6
E.Shell
Foxes and coyotes (at least) are strongly attracted to any sort of landmark that stands out. Fox and coyote trappers often use this attraction to direct target animals to a set, using a piece of rock, a chunk of wood, a small sheaf/pile of hay, a wooden stake, even a transplanted clump of tall grass - anything that stands out and catches the eye. Very much like domestic canines use fence posts and fire hydrants. In your situation, the watermelon mound is "IT" and thus serves as a scent post and activity hub. Put a taller pile of dirt out there nearby and they'll probably stay off your watermelon hill.
 
Old 05-13-2019, 07:53 AM   #7
E.Shell
BTW, we used to grow watermelons, cantaloupes and strawberries commercially on the family farm in central Maryland. They all seem to need sandy, well drained soil and plenty of room to spread the vines.
 
Old 05-13-2019, 11:49 AM   #8
WebSlave
Quote:
Originally Posted by E.Shell View Post
BTW, we used to grow watermelons, cantaloupes and strawberries commercially on the family farm in central Maryland. They all seem to need sandy, well drained soil and plenty of room to spread the vines.
I believe I have been giving the plants that environment every time I have tried to grow them in the past. Without much success. The watermelons would either split open spontaneously while still unripened, or they would get black underneath and rot away. I had read they needed to be watered well, but perhaps I overdid it?
 
Old 05-13-2019, 11:52 AM   #9
WebSlave
Quote:
Originally Posted by E.Shell View Post
Foxes and coyotes (at least) are strongly attracted to any sort of landmark that stands out. Fox and coyote trappers often use this attraction to direct target animals to a set, using a piece of rock, a chunk of wood, a small sheaf/pile of hay, a wooden stake, even a transplanted clump of tall grass - anything that stands out and catches the eye. Very much like domestic canines use fence posts and fire hydrants. In your situation, the watermelon mound is "IT" and thus serves as a scent post and activity hub. Put a taller pile of dirt out there nearby and they'll probably stay off your watermelon hill.
Interesting. I had the game camera out night before last, and only saw one fox that trotted up the driveway, apparently ignoring the watermelon mound. There was a rabbit nearby and a raccoon nosed around the mound a bit, but none of them disturbed anything. Rained heavily last night and raining now here.

Didn't put the camera out last night because my batteries were dead and I didn't have my keys on me to get into the building to get fresh ones. The yellow flies make the trek back and forth again unappealing.
 
Old 05-13-2019, 11:58 AM   #10
E.Shell
Yeah, if they split on the vine, they're getting too much water. Tomatoes will do the same thing with heavy rains. If they are rotting, they are either getting too much water and/or they are not well-drained enough. Sounds like a little of both.

If allowed to mature naturally, watermelons don't split. They will fully ripen, turn and begin to rot from inside, a brown spot will become a hole and the whole thing will collapse inward. Eventually leaves you with a pile of seeds and a chunk of dried out rind.
 

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