Monday, April 23, 2012

To catch an armadillo...or not

Armadillos are blind and dumb. Yet somehow the one digging holes in our yard is smart enough to outsmart the two of us plus three hired armadillo catchers. Thus far.

We had our annual termite inspection recently. During the inspection we discovered a tunnel next to the foundation, behind some rather shabby looking bushes (shame on me). Turns out we had an armadillo. I'd known for a while that we had one as I noted all the little holes sprouting up in our yard. We're on five wooded acres so I expect some wildlife to do damage at times.

I "assumed" the thing had space out in the woods never crossed my mind to think we were sharing space.

I went out on the Internet and did a bit of research. The general consensus was it was fairly easy to catch the supposedly dumber-than-average pest with a trap. The cost of the traps ran from around $60 - $90 for the armadillo size.

When I read through the comments from people who tried the traps, and failed more often than not it seemed, I decided to explore letting a professional handle the trapping of our yard destroyer. We found a great local company that only charged when the caught the critter. Some companies charge a fee to set up the traps.

A week later and a visit a day from the company and we seem to have scared the armadillo out of two homes without catching him.

It's a waste of time to bait the trap because armadillos are only interested in things like grubs that they dig out of the ground. Baiting a trap with cat food or other interesting things would probably have netted us a raccoon or maybe a squirrel but it wouldn't tempt an armadillo.

The pest folks put the trap next to the hole the armadillo had dug next to our wall. They rigged it so he had could only go into the trap if he left. We learned that first night that he wasn't in the hole, he must have been creating a second home...and we had blocked his ability to get into the "new" home. We saw his little prints going up the mud to the back of the trap. So, they turned it around. He didn't come back.

We found another place where it looked like he's started making a new home but it was hit or miss on where to put the trap...and we missed.

At this point we've decided to give up. We dropped rocks into both holes and covered them up. Our next option is to put down a grub killer on a regular basis which would make the neighbors yard more enticing... no, that's not a nice thing for our neighbor, but chances are the dumb thing is also destroying their yard already.  They travel wide and far.

The holes are still appearing in the yard so I know he's out there somewhere. I've read enough to know that none of the home remedies work on ridding the area of the pests. I'm going to do some more noodling to see what else we might try. I'm open to suggestions!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blackberries and grapes

Last year, late into the year, my Mom gave me a cherry tree "baby", some sprigs of her grapes and a couple of blackberries to plant. We weren't sure if they'd take hold before the winter or survive the hottest time of the year...and they didn't. I lost all but one blackberry.

I was going to try some of hers again as she has plenty, but haven't been able to get up to her area and have forgotten to mention it every time my parents came in our direction. So, I bought two grape vines and a blackberry at our local Lowes store.

I picked up some composted manure and some fruit dirt. That sounds funny --- fruit dirt. I read the instructions and learned that I shouldn't fertilize when first planting so I worked the stuff into the soil around where I intended to plant and just used top soil mixed with our Georgia clay and the dirt on the root ball when putting the plants into the ground.

Lucky for me it has rained a few times since I planted them a little over a week ago. The leaves fell off the blackberry when I planted it... It was a tiny stick to begin and only had two little leaves. It was the only one they had that had any leaves at all! But it was less than $4 (on sale) and they have a guarantee on them so it was worth a shot.

I'm going to get Mom to save a few cherry tree shooters for me and will try that again.

My goal is to have a yard full of fruit. I have a pomegranate, two blueberries, figs, and some other random types of fruit trees or bushes. Unfortunately, the birds and deer enjoy the fruit more than we do! Living on five wooded acres makes my garden a salad bar buffet of treats for the wild life! In fact, I moved my tomatoes and beans into containers on the back porch this year just to make sure I'd get some.

Hopefully in a few years I'll have grapes and blackberries to fight the wild life over.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Organic Gardening Workshop Set at UGA Campus in Griffing

Apr. 27, 2012 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

An organic gardening workshop is slated for April 27 on the University of Georgia campus in Griffin, Ga. The class will meet from 9 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. at the UGA Griffin Campus Research & Education Garden. The class will break for lunch from noon until 1:15 p.m.

Workshop instructor Bob Westerfield, a UGA Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist, will focus on the building blocks of organic gardening techniques and what consumers need to know about organic and sustainable farming. Participants will learn about soil ecosystems, managing soil, air, water and minerals, methods of weed, insect and disease control within organic standards and compost. Consumer knowledge, attitudes and concepts of organic gardening will also be covered.

The course is sponsored by UGA Cooperative Extension and the UGA horticulture department. The cost of the workshop is $39 which includes refreshments and workshop supplies.

Pre-register by printing the form found online at The deadline for registration is April 24.

For more information, call Krissy Slagle at (770) 229-3368 or email her at