HOW TO KEEP CRITTERS FROM YOUR GARDEN
TIPS TO DETER CRITTERS IN YOUR GARDEN
1. Raised beds closer to the house are a good solution. The raised beds will keep out turtles and rabbits because of the height and the movements from the house will keep other critters scared away. It also keeps the soil warmer and this is good news for those in colder climates.
2. Keep the rows apart wide enough to get a tiller or mower through for easy weed remover after the garden is planted. This also makes critters less brave because they don't want to be in the open areas.
3. Plants like garlic, onion, chives, marigolds, mint and lavender can all be used to repel rabbits, deer, and even ants out of your garden. Since they go by sense of smell to what they eat, this can be an effective way of gardening. Plant this interspersed throughout the garden and in particular on the edges of the garden.
- Mice do not like peppermint. Mint can be made into tea, and you can pick a few leaves to put in some fresh water to drink as well. It gives it a refreshing taste.
- Squirrels do not like hot, or spicy peppers.
- Mothballs are said to deter snakes, mice and squirrels but should be placed around and away from the garden.
- Some of my rural friends say make a spray with hot peppers or garlic with water, while others add a scant amount of vinegar or dish soap.
- For specific pests, my gardening friends say put pests you are having problems with (like ants) in a blender you would not use for food - blended with a blender full of water, pour in a spray bottle and spray on plants for an organic deterrent.
All of the plants listed have some useful value.
4. Use an abundance of mulch. This not only helps with the temperature of the soil, but helps deter certain animals. You can use wood chipped bark you make yourself, while cleaning your yard, or use straw or pine needles. Visit your local saw mill to see if you can get a good buy on mulch by truckload although this does take muscle.
5. Create a diversion. Rabbits and other small critters love eating clover, goldenrod, alfalfa, dandelions, and many types of wildflowers. Plant these outside and away from the garden.
6. Fencing. Most gardeners who live in rural areas have a problem with critters including deer. Even some suburbs have deer problems. A fence does not have to be costly. An inexpensive wire fence can be erected rather easily. You can even use the metal posts or fence posts made from fallen limbs. The important thing is to bury a good portion of the fence under the ground when possible or stack lumbar around the fence so small animals cannot burrow underneath it. Next, you may want to add one or two strips of barbed wire on top of your fence to discourage deer. Electric fence is also an option. Make sure the gate is easy to open and close.
7. Domestic animals. Dogs and cats can be an effective way to keep wild critters at bay and prevent them from running your garden full time. Rat Terriers are named for the reason they were bread but Collies and other dogs will keep squirrels and moles at bay.
8. Lure barn owls with owl houses and food that attracts them. These owls eat small rodents and are nocturnal so they will be guarding your garden after dark.
9. If deer are a special problem in your area, or if you want to prevent them from plundering your garden bounty, consider that they are partial to beans, peas, lettuce and Hostas and keep those limited in your garden or buy or trade for them at the local farmer's market. They also love fruit trees and berries so you may want to plan on getting fruit from orchards and make a fun day of it by spending it with friends or grandchildren that help pick the fruit. If you like flowers, pick thorny roses. Other tricks for deer include sensor sprinklers that spray mist when motion is detected. This may startle the deer away because a sprinkler will make a little noise and the water mist will surprise them as well. Bars of soap have been suggested to deter deer. The trick here is to change the soap scent periodically so they don't adapt to it. If you are in a deer traffic area, try to limit corn and buy it at the local farmer's market instead if you cannot use barbed wire or electric fencing.
10. Garden ornaments with movable parts deter birds and other critters because it makes them skittish. Scarecrows have been used for decades. If your garden is hidden from view, you may even consider hanging aluminum pie pans works very well keeping birds out of the grape vineyard. These ornaments in combination with wind chimes work pretty well.