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Digger of squash plants"

 
pollinator
Posts: 674
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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We had steady but not heavy rain overnight. This morning I  found a depredation  in the squash patch that I've never seen in nearly three decades of homesteading and an even longer period of vegetable gardening.  Two weeks ago, I transplanted out, from 6-inch pots, the squash plants that my wife had nurtured in the greenhouse. They'd been doing well, showing good color & growth. This morning I was walking around in our larger garden and found that three of the plants had been dug out.

The plants were left sort of complete, none of the three showed damage to the stems or leaves.  In two cases, the root ball (which had obviously developed nicely in two weeks) was laying within an inch of the hole left by the digger. But with one of these, the root ball had come apart into two portions (one still at the top of the hole the digger made). The third plant was also complete, but while the digger did bring it up from its position, the root ball was sitting at the top of the hole. Naturally enough, I suppose, the leaves of this third one were showing the least wilt among the three plants.

Our corn is planted in a patch adjacent to the squash, and is undisturbed. In fact, all other plants in the whole garden appear well and undisturbed. I was unable to find any tracks in the squash patch. We don't have a dog at present. We're fenced against deer & bears. We've had trouble with skunks, but they dig in drier areas for chafer beetle grubs and haven't disturbed any plants except for digging down through the grass growing in those areas. Raccoons also seem to have gone only for those grubs in drier areas, or to our compost bin.

We're baffled. Any Ideas?

 
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I feel that could be caused by several small animals.  To be sure you would need a game cam.

Since the roots were not damaged I would rule out gophers.

Do you have rabbits or squirrels?

Here are some articles that might help you or others:

https://www.weekand.com/home-garden/article/stop-rabbit-digging-18038304.php

https://www.gardenerbasics.com/blog/keep-squirrels-from-digging-up-plants

I am looking forward to what other folks are suggesting.
 
gardener
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Location: the mountains of western nc
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were the squash planted with any kind of fertilizer/compost? i’ve had something (probably raccoon or opossum) dig up transplants in the next few days after planting because they were going for some amendment that was underneath them.
 
Anne Miller
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Greg offers a real good possibility.  I, too have had raccoon go after egg shell that I buried.
 
pollinator
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Maybe a packrat. They do all kinds of weird things. I've got one right now that nibbles off leaves and stems from my radishes and broccoli raab, which are all flowering right now. It drags them all to a corner of the garden, piles them up, and then just leaves them there.
 
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Location: North East Wisconsin
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grey squirrels did this to me over and over and over. I actually set up game cameras to solve the mystery. Then I bought a pellet gun and feasted on squirrels.
 
I suggest huckleberry pie. But the only thing on the gluten free menu is this tiny ad:
Learn Permaculture through a little hard work
https://wheaton-labs.com/bootcamp
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