Sunday, October 7, 2012

Voles in the Acorn Squash

     Voles, voles, voles.  Furry little critters that eat or destroy so many of my veggies.  They fit right through the one inch mesh on one of my fenced areas.  This spring at my park garden I observed a vole hanging upside down from a broccoli leaf to get a good angle to eat the broccoli head.  To zero.  Not a head did I harvest from that patch.  I had a large beautiful cardoon plant two weeks ago.  Had.  One morning it was all collapsed.  The voles had eaten the stems clean through at ground level.  And the indestructible hosta bed, gone.  I thought the hosta succumbed to the drought, but they would have recovered in the last month when we have had some rain.  But no, they are just gone, like potato chips for the voles.

Vole-atized acorn squash,  October 7, 2012
      This is not some new form of acorn squash that has cute little "peanuts" like some of the bumpy pumpkins.  These are acorn squash that have formed scabs from where the voles chewed on the skins.

      This squash is more than half eaten.  It seems that if the voles just chew the surface, they may make minor damage and leave.  But if they get into the interior of the squash, they really chow down.  There have been some squash that have just an outer skeleton where the meat has been eaten from the interior.

Two perfect acorn squash,  October 7,  2012
      Well almost perfect.  They are not quite ripe yet, but I hope they will ripen properly off the vine.  When ripe, acorn squash will have a consistent dark green color, without the lighter shades shown above.  And why are these two so nice?   Because they were growing suspended on the fence, at least a foot off the ground.  I suspect that the voles are afraid to climb to such an exposed position.  Will I be growing my squash, pumpkins and watermelon on trellises next year?  I will if I want produce rather than raising it to feed the voles.

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