It finally happened. While harvesting cherry tomatoes from my backyard garden earlier this week, a patch of topless broccoli plants caught the corner of my eye. Slowly turning to assess the damage – brow low, fists clenched – the reality became strikingly clear: my broccoli plants were completely decimated. Taking a step farther, I noticed that my beet greens were shorn to nibbly stumps as well.
How could this be?! Who was the culprit? One more step provided the answer: a groundhog done it. Marmota monax, little bugger. With a complete and utter lack of courtesy, this groundhog had made its home directly in the center of my peri-urban vegetable garden. There was nothing discreet about it. Main hole, back hole, emergency exit hole, all plain as day. Apparently in the eyes of a hungry rodent, it’s never too “city” for groundhogs.
After the initial shock and desire for revenge faded, I paused to consider the threat, or lack thereof, of rooftop vermin. Ground-level farms and gardens are often plagued by groundhogs, rabbits, and other fuzzy creatures looking for an easy meal. Growers spend time and money on poison, traps, fences, chemical deterrents, guard dogs, and even guns! But rather than removing the vermin from the garden, what if you were to remove the garden from the vermin? Rooftops offer a unique setting that is out of reach from groundhogs and rabbits. The occasional squirrel may wander up a downspout, but this can be easily prevented by installing metal collars at potential access points. As for mice and rats? Well, in the green roof industry we only really see these animals when the green roof is at-grade with the surrounding landscape. Elevate the roof, and 99 times out of 100, you’re safe.
Are your garden pests driving you crazy enough to try rooftop gardening?