Banish Backyard Bandits

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Riding your garden from those pesky pests: Rabbits, moles,and other critters

Transcript of Banish Backyard Bandits

  • Clever Solutions for Guarding Your Gqrden

  • ..........._-sBackyard

    a rodale organic gardening book

    Copyright 2001 by Rodale Inc.


  • The information in this booklet has been carefully researched and all efforts havebeen made to ensure accuracy. Rodale Inc. assumes no responsibility for any injuriessuffered or for damages or losses incurred during the use of or as a result of followingthis information. It is important to study all directions carefully before taking any

    actions based on information and advice presented in this book. When using anycommercial product, always read and follow label directions. Where trade names areused, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Rodale Inc. is implied.

    Portions of this booklet have been excerpted from:Outwitting Critters by Bill Adler Jr. 1992 Bill Adler and Robin Books,

    Inc. Published by The Lyons Press. Used with permission ..For information on ordering this book,

    call The Lyons Press at (212) 620-9580, ext. 22.Or shop on the Web at www.lyonspress.corn.



    Rodale publishes OG, the all-timefavorite gardening magazine. For information about

    ordering a subscription, call (800) 666-2206 or visit online


    Editor:Designer:Copy editor:Researcher:

    Amanda KimbleLynn BarillaJennifer BlackwellDiana Erney

  • Con ten ts

    INTRODUCTIONWho's That ibbling At My House?

    PART ICultivating a Critter-Free Garden 7

    CHAPTER 1:Protecting Your Garden with PlantsPlant a Green Fence 8

    If You Can't Beat 'Em, Feed 'Em 12

    CHAPTER 2: Tricks and Tips for Resisting AttackTricks 14

    Tips 19

    CHAPTER 3: Pest ProjectsNab the ibblers 21

    Deter the Diggers 24

    Banish the Birds 26

    Keep Out Climbers 26

    PART IIWild Things (animal encyclopedia)



  • Who's That Nibbling at My House?One day your garden is ready for the har~est; the next day, it'sdevastated. You notice nibble marks on some barely ripe greentomatoes and find all the perfectly plump red fruits gone-stolenin the night. Critters! Animals! Thieves!

    Most gardeners enjoy nature, except when+nature" gets thebest of their gardens. Observing the wildlife in your garden canbe entertaining, educational, and exasperating. Critters obviouslydon't appreciate the difference between your garden and theirdinner. To the wildlife in your neighborhood, your garden is justanother potential source of food. And as human habitats contin-ue to expand into the places where animals make their homes,those animals become increasingly likely to forage where they'renot wanted - in your vegetable garden, your favorite flowerbeds,your landscape, and your garbage cans.

    If your garden looks like a war zone (wounded carrots andhalf-eaten zucchini) and you need help now, the tricks, tips, andprojects in Part I, Cultivating a Critter-Free Garden, will provideyou with some immediate solutions to your fuzzy or featheredproblems. Clever gardeners have devised all sorts of ways to dis-courage, trick, and repel animal pests. From maintaining a natur-al habitat for wild animals to knowing which crops will keeppests away from your vegetables, you'll find dozens of solutionsfor keeping your plants healthy and your garden critter free.Remember, not all methods will work the same for everyone. Ifat first you don't succeed, try another technique.

    Fortunately, you can learn to live with and even enjoy thewildlife in and around your garden. Part II, Wild Things, covers-the living, loving, and eating habits of the most common gardencritters. Observing and understanding the behavior of your ani-mal visitors may help you to manage them in the long term.


  • Cultivating a Critter-Free Garden

    Birds and four-footed creatures can cause more damage than insects inmany suburban and rural gardens. They may ruin your garden or yardovernight, eating anything from apples to zinnias. Lots of animal-control methods work well, but only if they are directed at the right tar-. get. Because most animal pests feed at night, you may have to scout forsigns, such as destroyed plants, tracks, tunnels, or droppings, to figureout who the culprits are. Follow these guidelines for coping with ani-mal pests, and use the information in the following chapters to repel

    . the critters before your garden becomes a favorite all-you-can-eat buffet.

    ~. Identify the pest. Tracks are a good clue to the pest's identity.

    ~. Assess the damage and decide if you want to take action.If it's only cosmetic, you may decide your plants can tolerateit. If the damage threatens harvest or plant health, controlmay be necessary. If damage is limited to one plant type,consiclerdropping it from your yard or garden plans.

    ~. Determine the best way to prevent or control the damage.Combining several tactics is often the most effective approach.It's-up t.oyou to decide if the damage is severe enough to warrantthe more stringent methods. Check out the following chaptersfor more in-depth suggestions for preventing, repelling, and/orremoving those cantankerous critters.





    Protecting Your Garden with PlantsFood leads critters to your yard and may be one of the easiest and leastinvasive control methods for ridding your garden of pests. Did youever notice that deer eat only the ripe tomatoes, the perfect asparagus,and the budding tulips, and leave the unripe vegetables alone? Believeit or not, the critters that roam your garden in search of a good picky eaters. And you can use their preferences to your advantage.Make their favorite crop taste unappealing with a garlic spray, or offerthem their very own specialty weed bed to nibble on. Try the followingmethods to turn their taste buds to your advantage.

    A great way to protect your garden is to surround the appealing cropswith flowers or vegetables that are unappealing to the problem critters.This "green fence" will encourage most critters to look elsewhere for ameal. You can also discourage animals with sprays or solutions madefrom plants. Confuse the critters with a mouthful of onions whenthey're expecting tasty bulbs, and they'll go running.

    RABBIT ROTMaster Gardener Flo Zack has used rotten hay for many years to keeprabbits from eating her beans, lettuce, strawberries, and other bunnyfavorites. Buy hay a year before you'll use it and leave it outside to rot.The following year, mulch your vegetable garden with it. One side ofeach row is enough. "Rabbits just don't like the smell of rotten hay."-

    FUNNY FLAVORSRabbits usually stop nibbling if their first bites of a crop taste unnaturalor bitter. Try red or black pepper and garlic/onion/chive sprays to leavea bad taste in the bunny's mouth. Or flavor your garden with an organ-ic commercial repellent mixture labeled for rabbits. (Make sure thelabel says it's safe for use on edibles if used in a vegetable garden.)


  • SCENT FENCETo repel rabbits, squirrels, deer, and raccoons, try the following recipe:

    Crush garlic. Put the mash in a jug and fill with water. Let the jug sit in the sun for a few days. Strain the mixture and pour into a plastic squirt bottle. Squirt it around the perimeter of your garden in the evening. Reapply after a rainstorm.

    Mice and ants aren't the only animals that run from the strong smellof tansy. You can use this pungent herb in your garden to repel voles.Gather and dry tansy in a cool, dark place. Scatter the branchesaround your vegetables. The tansy should stop the voles in their tracks.


    FENCING IN YOUR TULIPSGrowing elegant, rainbow-colored tulips is a risky proposition if youhave hungry, bulb-eating rodents around. However, you can defendyour tulips by hiding a cluster of bulbs within a circle of daffodils.Daffodils contain poisonous alkaloids that these pesky herbivores detest.

    Dig a large, flat-bottomed hole6 to 8 inches deep.

    . Set a cluster of 5 or moretulips of a single cultivar in thecenter, spacing the bulbs 1 to 2inches apart.

    Surround the tulips with 11 ormore bulbs of a single cultivarof daffodils, also spaced 1 to 2inches apart.

    Refill the hole with soil.


  • SEASON YOUR BULBS WITH ONIONKeep a cheese grater in your garden tool bucket and never throwaway soft onions again. Onion juice is great for keeping rodents awayfrom your bulbs. Grate onions over your bulbs before planting them,and follow up by sprinkling the soil surface liberally.

    Too HOT TO HANDLEIf you grow hot peppers that are too hot to handle and definitely toohot to eat, try using them to repel tree-nibbling pests. Wearinggloves, string the hot peppers on yarn or twine. Nail one end of thestring to the ground and wrap the trunks of delicate trees up tothe lowest branches so that the tree trunks look like candy canes.Rabbits and mice looking for a snack will be sure to avoid yourpeppered trees and search elsewhere for a snack.

    COUNTING CROWSIf crows have been eating your corn seed, plant some garlic in yourpatch 3 or 4 weeks before you plant your corn. The garlic will be anunpleasant surprise for any crows that get too curious. And whenyour corn comes up, they'll think it's more garlic and avoid the patch.

  • '-----------------------~~~~- --~-


    GREEN-OUTSpread fresh grass clippings over your garden to confuse redbirds,blackbirds, robins, and starlings. The birds have trouble distinguishingthe thin leaves of seedlings from all the green grass clippings.

    SUNFLOWER POWERDorothy Holland from Laporte, Minnesota, found out by.chance thatdeer don't like sunflowers. She planted a row of sunflowers on th