The White House garden doesn't look like the above photo right now. 

Where once there was locavore enthusiasm and fresh, healthy crops — now there's rotting vegetables, copious weeds, and even a resident fox. 

This isn't just a classic case of a gardener losing enthusiasm. In fact, you can chalk it up to yet another weird side effect of the government shutdown. As Politico reports, the ongoing gridlock in Washington means that work in the White House garden has come to a standstill

A White House source told Obama Foodorama that under the shutdown gardeners are not allowed to harvest any of the crops. They are only allowed to water the garden and remove trash — restrictions that preclude raking, weeding, or clearing out dead leaves.

Wildlife are “having a field day,” Gehman Kohan reports. The squirrels, in particular, seem to have gotten the memo that no one is tending to the garden. “The squirrels are always a problem in the garden, eating the berry crop in the summer months. But they’re now kids in a candy store, gorging themselves.”

The White House horticulturalist is, apparently, still working. But a minimal maintenance order means that anything beyond watering is considered unnecessary and unsanctioned work. 

With animals being negatively affected by the shutdown already, and The Atlantic reporting that there's a fox on the loose on the White House grounds, these stories are a reminder that nature won't pause because our politics grind to a halt. They are also, of course, a vivid demonstration that you can't just put things on hold and pick up where you left off.

A rotted pumpkin crop is hardly the worst impact of this government shutdown, but it is highly symbolic. As the EPA sits idle (or volunteers elsewhere), as WIC remains hampered, and as DOD employees stay home, the projects they were working on lose momentum and continuity, and require more and more resources to get back on track. For every worker who remains off the job, for every project that remains on hold, we're simply storing up costs for when the impasse is over.

Related on MNN: Michelle Obama writes book about White House garden