Saturday, February 4th, 2012...5:57 am

Groundhogs in the Garden – They Do More Than See Their Shadows

~Groundhog up a Tree~ by ~Sage~

Groundhog day just came last Tuesday.  As you may know, the Groundhog – Marmota marmax saw its shadow and let us know that we will have more winter. Since my area of the country has not really had winter yet, just two snowstorms that quickly melted, I was hoping that he wouldn’t see his shadow. I can’t wait for spring.

There are a few common names besides Groundhogs that people use. In certain parts of the country are called woodchucks, marmots, land beavers or even whistling pigs.

I have a groundhog that lives on my property. Just one. He almost seems like a pet since he barely scurries away when I see him, or he sees me- his vision is supposed to be excellent so that predators can’t sneak up on him. Since I have never heard him whistle, I am thinking of calling him Max, for short. Since Max is solitary, I don’t chase him away for fear that a female might move into his burrow and have babies in the spring. I have never noticed him doing any damage to my plants, but I do try to feed him some of my vegetable scraps. He must be eating something, because he is really fat.

Woodchucks can have all the dandelions, grasses and plantain, some of their favorite plants, since they do me a service if I don’t have to weed those plants. Woodchucks will eat bark and fruits as well but I have not noticed their destruction on my property. Unfortunately, they are quite drawn to people’s vegetable gardens in the summer when they are loading up on fat reserves for the coming winter. Since I really have a small vegetable garden because of all the shade on my property, I have never noticed any loss of any of my vegetables.

There is a growing list of plants that have been eaten by groundhogs. For the most complete list of flowers and vegetables from A to Z check out this site.  Some favorite plants of the gardener are also favorites of the woodchuck.

If you are having problems with woodchucks, there are traps and netting that one can use to get rid of them or deter them. There are also some sprays on the market that are supposed to prevent chewing animals like woodchucks from eating your plants.

Ropel is one product that will deter chewing rodents and other animals. ROPEL is NOT safe to use on edible crops and plants. READ THE LABEL and use only as directed.  See here. A commercial website that recommends methods of getting rid of woodchucks including some sprays is this.  TheGardenLady has not tried any of these products. If a reader has found the sprays to be successful, let TheGardenLady readers know what you used.

PS If you haven’t seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, rent it. It is family fun. I met a man who said he has watched it 6 times, he likes it so much.  Check this site out to read about the movie.

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