What's eating my garden?

poseyjungle(z10 CA)July 23, 2008

I planted a (very) small vegetable garden this year, and, for the life of me, I can't figure out what's eating my plants. In the last couple of months, I've lost several tomato plants from a six-pack (I thought tomato leaves were poisonous to mammals), a large parsley plant was mown to the ground, and my mint, bean, and basil plants disappeared overnight. Yesterday, I came out to find that a rosemary plant in a 4" pot had been eaten - it looked like somebody had taken a chain saw to it. Now, this was a woody plant, so whatever it was ate a lot of sticks along with the leaves. And there's a mature rosemary plant about five feet away that wasn't touched.

We live near the edge of parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains, and I've seen rats, raccoons, coyotes, and squirrels in the yard in the past, and deer and rabbits across the street. (I don't think deer could get in the yard, though - it's a small lot and partially fenced. And it seems unlikely that rabbits are doing the damage, because some of the tomato leaves the mystery critter is munching are pretty high off the ground.)

Do any of you have any idea what could be eating my plants?

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tracey_nj6(6)

I tend to blame everything devoured in my garden on the woodchuck, especially since I don't have deer (knock wood). Squirrels tend to do mostly cosmetic damage, not devouring anything, nor do my rabbits for some strange reason (again, knock wood)...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 7:56PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I'm voting for the deer...why do you think partially fenced is keeping them out?

Gone overnight does sound suspiciously like a larger animal, and I've seen the deer effortlessly clear the neighbors 5' gate (as recently as Sunday night) to the 6' high fenced yard, no running start but from standing still right in front of it. Up and over, doesn't deter them at all.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 12:54AM
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poseyjungle(z10 CA)

Thank you both for your responses. Tracey, I don't think we have woodchucks here in SoCal, but given some of the other wildlife I've seen around here, nothing would surprise me!

Morz8, the plot is in a place that's not easily accessible to a large animal - it's in a side yard only about 8 feet wide, next to the garage. If an animal as large as a deer was getting in, I think I'd see some evidence - tracks, things knocked over, etc. Nothing. I also have ornamental plants in the unfenced front yard which have never been touched, and I understand deer are voracious.

I should mention that the critter has also eaten a hot pepper plant (with peppers!) and hasn't (yet) touched the sage. I know there are rats in the yard, but I've never heard of rats eating plants. Is that a possibility?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 1:06PM
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poseyjungle(z10 CA)

It's the rats!
My husband went deep in the garden shed today and found whole stems of cherry tomatoes hidden away, along with copious amounts of rat poo. I've never heard of rats doing this before!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 1:26PM
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