One of the most disheartening moments in gardening is the shock of discovering the fruit of your vegetable or floral labors has been eaten before you got to harvest it or enjoy it. There’s some fierce competition out there for the delectable delights we grow that are delicious to many unwanted visitors to our gardens. When I find something that works to combat the competition, I love to share it.
Detracting the Deer
I have found two products that work fantastically to keep deer away from absolutely everything. One is pricey but effective, and one is cheap but has a little bit of a gross factor.
“Not Tonight, Deer” – My in-laws battled deer and were constantly telling us funny stories of their attempts to keep them away. They had tried everything under the sun but nothing worked. I found this product to give them as a gag gift for Christmas one year. Much to our surprise, it worked! It is all-natural and non-toxic. The down side is it’s pretty pricey. You can find more information about it and order it from NotTonight.com.
Milorganite – Your local gardening store can be a wealth of resources. That is where I learned about this product. While chatting with the owner of my favorite nursery, I mentioned my frustration with disappearing tulips. I have a huge bed of all different color purple tulips. For years every time they bloomed I’d wake up the next morning excited to enjoy them and all that would be left were green stubs. The nursery owner told me about milorganite, which is actually a fertilizer that happens to work as an exceptional deer repellant. The gross factor? It’s made from human waste. This is why it’s such a good repellant: man is a deer’s greatest predator. But, it’s cheap and absolutely effective. You can sprinkle a border around your property and deer will no longer make unexpected visits. We now enjoy our tulip bed through the entire spring until they lose their petals on their own. Learn more about it at Milorganite.com.
Battling the Bunnies
Cute as can be, rabbits are some of the worst culprits for garden gobbling. Working with nature to keep these critters away may prove challenging but it’s the most humane (or weasel-mane in my case).
Target Taste – Organic gardeners recommend an approach that makes the foliage taste unappealing. Finding natural products that bunnies dislike is the key, and applying them to plants diligently and repeatedly is important. Rabbits remember the bad taste and don’t come back. Some of these items include hot chili, garlic, cayenne pepper, vinegar, tobasco sauce or chili powder. My favorite recipe is to use beaten eggs with water, hot sauce, ground pepper and garlic powder. I mix these together, let them sit out for a couple of days and apply it to my plants before they bloom. The plants are unharmed, the stink and taste are horrible, and the eggs help the mixture stay on even through rain and watering.
Blood or bone meal are also recommended but must be used properly.
If you try these natural remedies and still have problems, don’t be discouraged. A lot of your success depends on how the extent of the rabbit population. It may be that the best or only solution is a fence. Make sure it doesn’t have any holes or Peter Rabbit may still pay you a visit even though his parents told him not to.
Scrapping with Squirrels
Squirrels are another garden invader we don’t welcome to share our harvest with. It’s ingrained in their nature to scavenge and find food and they are creative and relentless, so the battle can be intense.
Distraction – One of my fellow weasel friends has had great success by simply providing a diversion. He places heaps of nuts in a large bowl out away from his garden to keep the squirrels busy. It really works to distract them from taking what he’s growing for himself.
Squirrel “Scarecrows” – Statues of predators, like owls, also work to scare off squirrels. Or, having the real thing around works, too. Having a dog to chase the squirrels works well for keeping the squirrels away.
Have you had some funny experiences battling pests in your garden? We’d love to read your stories.
What works for you to combat the competition in your garden? Please share your successes with us!