Your tulips are just about to bloom, your tomatoes are plump and ready to harvest and your apples are almost to perfection and then it happens just as you turn your head and sometimes in the darkness of night a thief steals your dreams of the perfect garden season!! Mother Nature’s critters come in so many shapes and sizes some a cute - squirrels, some are stinky –skunks and some come straight from our homes –cats.
So the question is how we protect our gardens from them? THE KEY: Play with their senses!! If your garden smells great, tastes great, looks great, or feels great …critter will come however if just one of these senses are out of place your garden may be safe!!
SMELL: Put the smell of fear in their nose. Most critters are smell sensitive, easily frighten away with smells of their predators. For years home gardeners have gone to sporting goods retailers purchasing Coyote, Fox and Wolf urine. Just a few drops repel rabbits, deer to even a Raccoon at bay. Bars of soap (smells like us humans) hung from tree branches around the exterior of a property have been known to deter deer. Dried leaves of mint have been known to repel a rat and a generous use of dog or human hair help to let rabbits know “Stay away!” Squirrels are notorious for destroying everything from fall bulb plants to spring sprouts blood meal has traditionally kept them away but I strongly recommend a dusting of pelletized chicken manure. While smell distracts smell can attract remember food left outdoors and uncovered is an easy way to welcome a family of raccoons.
SIGHT: A healthy, happy vegetable garden is a huge attraction for hungry furry and feathered friend. How do you keep them at bay let them see something to scare them away? Owls are predators to birds and bunnies; the placement of owl statuary in a garden is all you need. Cats using your garden as a litter box Cats hate snakes, placing a dollar store rubber snake in a garden may alter their bathroom practices. The Great Blue Heron is beautiful but bad guest to the water garden as they will consume a collection of prized Koi quickly…the best way to deter them is to put a statue of one near your water garden. Blue Heron’s are territorial and seeing one keeps others away.
SOUND: A quite, calm space is a welcoming place however in the battle against “the unwanted” creating a disturbance is needed. A clock radio set to send the sound waves of talk radio during dusk and or dawn has been known to keep furry lovers of silence away (deer, rabbits). Good vibrations keep our feet moving and also help to keep moles and mice out of the garden. A wine bottle buried to the stout or the placement of a whirl-a-gig in a garden with the help of wind will vibrate the ground making a displeasing environment for underground tunnelers!!
TASTE: In the eyes of “the unwanted” your garden is buffet to be enjoyed however if the food taste bad the garden will be left alone. For winter protection of trees and shrubs apply Skoot by Plant Prod a distasteful yet harmless chemical repellent discourages feeding for up to 6 months by mice, rabbits and deer. Problem with squirrel’s plant narcissus (daffodils). Narcissus not only tastes bad but are poisonous!! If you can’t beat them feed them. Many place squirrel feeders away from desired areas keeping squirrels busy elsewhere thus leaving your prized bird feeders and plants alone.
TOUCH: Rich organic garden soil is great for the garden and wonderful to walk on. Cats love its feel on their tender paws. Coarse mulch (crush brick, river stone) looks great, reduces weeds, retains water and can help keep cats and other digging critters at bay. Covering newly planted bulbs with chicken wire and placing a layer soil over top is a hidden guard against digging chipmunks and squirrels and crush shells of mussels and clams (after enjoyed) helps to rid your garden of crawling insects.
ADAPT: An unpleasing smell, a scary sight, a disturbing sound, distasteful leaf and or an uncomfortable walking space will keep the unwanted away!! However always remember that nature’s creatures adapt and while a plastic owl may work today the boom of a radio may be tomorrow solution.