The spring weather has been up and down; with freezing temperatures at times while also getting into the 80sF and even 90sF leading up to this update. Such extremes are stressful for plants, especially in drought areas. As both barley and wheat grow, the tolerance to cold temperatures begins to decrease, and the damage from any unexpected frost or freeze will correspondingly increase.
As noted in the last two updates, the armadillo caused extensive damage to the plots. Traps and bait have been placed; and we have now done nightly excursions to try and catch it. Shooting is not an option for us due to the location of the garden, which is not far from our house, a neighbor’s house, and a public road. We have also been filling in any discovered armadillo burrows. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest deterrence so far has been a resident bobcat. The bobcat has been eyeing our geese and hanging out near the garden compost pile (the armadillo’s favorite spot). We have had significantly less damage since the bobcat has been in the area.
But the past damage can still be seen as in the photo above. The divots and gaps are from the armadillo, it also caused large gaps where the plants could not recover and died. In the photo below, the center plant is surrounded by past diggings. The diggings have been harder to uproot plants once they got to this size; the roots help hold the soil together and limit and hinder the armadillos’ digging attempt.
The wheat has grown a lot since the last update, when it was barely a small leaf peaking out of the ground. Like the barley though, it too is showing the extent of the armadillo damage. The gaps in the photo below show where the diggings shifted seeds around and killed some plants between updates.
Since this wheat was planted later, it does have to compete more with weeds. Small weeds have sprouted within the wheat, but will likely be kept under control as the wheat is growing faster than the weeds. We have not been able to ID the weeds, mostly due to the tiny size and leaves, but it should not be too much of a problem we suspect.
We suspect that the wheat will be similar to barley, as the roots take hold, it will become harder for any animal to dig up plants. The advantage of winter planting over spring planting is also root development. If the armadillo was digging later after planting, would the development of roots over December and January have minimized or at least lessened the damage? Possibly, hard to know but it could be testable if someone had a herd of armadillos and a large plot of land. Overall, the plants that are surviving are thriving and doing well. As spring continues we hope the next update will show even taller height!