Banish Backyard Bandits

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Clever Solutions for Guarding Your Gqrden
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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.

    ~J.RODALE

  • 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.

    ~.RODALEWE INSPIRE AND ENABLE PEOPLE TO IMPROVE

    THEIR LIVES AND THE WORLD AROUND THEM.

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

    ordering a subscription, call (800) 666-2206 or visit online atwww.organicgardening.com.

    \

    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)

    5

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

    mD/J~

    -'#if'..l\

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  • CHAPTER 1

    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 meala.re 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.)

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  • 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.

    OLD-TIME TANSY TRICK

    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.

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  • 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.

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

    STINKY MINT

    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 the out-side of her garden for the birds. Soon she noticed the deer would walkup to the garden, stop, shake their heads, sniff, and back off. They ateweeds up to about 15 feet away from the sunflowers, but they wouldn't-get any closer. After planting a new row of strawberries, Dorothy laidsunflower stalks on the berries, and the deer stayed away, eating weedsin other parts of her yard instead.

    Feeling overrun by mint? Put the exuberant herb to good use. Plantextra mint in recycled plastic pots, and place the pots along the semi-shady edges of flowerbeds and other places. The potted mints willdeter nibbling deer without invading the rest of your garden.

  • If You Can't Beat 'Em, Feed 'EmMany gardeners enjoy the occasional critter as long as theirharvests aren't in danger. You can keep your furry and featheredfriends around and have a bountiful garden if you provideyummy food elsewhere for the animals.

    FREE BEAN SALADOffering deer their own personal garden to dine from may bejust what your vegetables need. Buy a bulk bag of year-old beanseeds and plant a row near the woods along the entire length ofthe garden or where deer appear most frequently. The deer willgraze on the beans and leave the rest of your garden alone.

    LET THEM EAT LETTUCEMake a deal with the garden-nibbling neighborhood rabbits.Plant a lettuce border around the vegetable garden on the sidewhere rabbits approach from the fields. Then, leave a spacebetween the lettuce and the larger garden and plant onions-

  • not a rabbit favorite- in the first few feet of the main garden.The rabbits will eat what they find first and leave the onions andeverything else growing behind them alone.

    .. A GARDEN OF THEIR OWNRabbits don't eat gourds, tomatoes, and peppers, but it's hard tokeep them away from that lettuce! Plant some lettuce for your-self among the crops rabbits don't like, and then plant a secondgarden of what they love (lettuce and beans) about 100 feet clos-er to the woods, or wherever they enter your yard. The rabbitswill munch on the greens in their own "garden" and won't needto nibble on your lettuce to fill their stomachs.

    A WEEDY PLANNot all gardeners think rabbits are a problem. Mter all, they doeat dandelions, knotweeds, ragweed, crabgrass, and even poisonivy, often preferring the weeds to garden vegetables. Leave thearea around your garden a little wild to give rabbits the dietaryweeds they love and to keep them out of your veggies.

  • ICHAPTER 2

    BRAID-AWAY

    Tricks and Tips for Resisting AttackWhen immediate results are necessary, growing gladiolus or plantingmulberry bushes to avert animals may take entirely too long. If you'rein the midst of battle, you need some fast-acting techniques for resist-ing attack before your garden becomes a battlefield of inedible vegeta-bles and bloomless flowers. But don't bring out the "big guns" yet. Youcan trick most critters into leaving your harvest alone. Outsmart thelittle creatures and you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that yourgarden is safe and that humans still are at the top of the food pyramid(a fact you've been doubting since the rabbits ate your lettuce beforeyou could harvest a single leaf).

    MARKING YOUR TERRITORYTrain your dog to mark its territory around the perimeter of yourgarden to keep wildlife away. Start this good habit by walking yourdog on a leash right around your garden (outside the beds), makingsure your pet goes where protection is needed. Not only will the urinedeter other critters, but the dog will get the idea' that this is its area topatrol and will diligently watch for veggie thieves.

    Here's another way to use yourdog to keep critters out of thegarden. Braid some loose dog furwith baling twine into ropes,which you can drape over lowgarden fences. For added protec-tion, drill holes through smallsoap bars and dangle the soapsfrom the dog-hair ropes. Thecombination of soap and dogscents will keep critters at bay.

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    Tricks

  • THE HAIRY WREATHIf a decorative grapevine wreath becomes too ragged to displayover the mantel or on the front door, you can recycle it in the gar-den to help keep away rabbits and other crazy critters. Wreaths areperfect for holding dog hair, a critter pet peeve. Brush your dogand poke the tufts or clumps of hair into the wreath. Then hang itabout 9 inches above the ground, and watch your garden grow!

    LIGHT Up YOUR GARDENDogs, cats, and other wild animals can damage delicate flowerstems and flatten a promising stand of annuals or perennials justwhen they begin to fill out nicely. To prevent flowers from beingflattened, try using old lampshades. Take the fabric off and placethe shade frames over any plants that critters might scratch at, lieon, or walk on. Once the flowers grow and fill out around theshade, you won't even know the frame is there.

    BASKET CASEBirds enjoy the vegetable garden just as much as humans do. Butbirds don't always wait for the veggies to mature. They just helpthemselves the minute they spy those tender seedlings. "Use plas-tic mesh baskets that cherry tomatoes or strawberries are sold in toprotect newly sprouted seedlings such as corn, cucumbers, mel-ons, and squash from birds," recommends Yvonne Salvio, garden-ing education coordinator for the Los Angeles County Cooper-ative Extension Service. "By the time the seedlings are tall enoughto reach through the tops of the baskets, it's safe to remove them."The baskets also provide a temporary barrier against nibbling rab-bits and voles.

    ANOTHER BASKET BARRIERThose plastic mesh berry baskets are also a great way to keep bur-rowing herbivores from chewing on a prized lily, amaryllis, ortulip bulb without paying an extra cent for protective gear. Placeone bulb in each basket when planting. The mesh forms a barrieron the bottom and sides and limits access to hungry critters.

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  • Ij

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    CD SCAREThe out-of-date music orcomput-er CDs your family no longeruses can find new life controllingfeathered pests in your garden ..Tie old CDs into fruit trees orstring them above the vegetablegarden. They work as well as thebird-scare tape, and they'll keepmoney in your pocket.

    GROOVIN' GROUNDHOGSKeep groundhogs from munching on your veggies by leavingaportable radio in your garden. Wrap the radio in plastic bags, place itin a shady spot, and leave it on. You might be arrested for disturbingthe peace, but you won't have any groundhogs!

    DETERRENT AND FERTILIZER IN ONETo outsmart wily woodchucks and drive them from your yard orgarden, try bloodmeal. Dump l;j cup dried blood fertilizer in thewoodchuck hole, and he won't go home, With luck, he'll moveright out!

    SODA BOTTLE COLLARSTo discourage squirrels from digging up new transplants, make protec-tive collars for your plants. Cut soda bottles crosswise into 3-inch-wide rings. 'Place the rings' around the stem of each new transplantand push the edges of the plastic into the ground. The soda bottlecollars create plastic shields around the bulbs and after. a week or so,the squirrels will lose interest in the site. (Remove the plastic ringsand use them again later.)

    BABY YOUR BULBSWhen you find bulbs that have been dug up, it is usually squirrelsthat are guilty. Sprinkle baby powder around bulb plantings to deterthe fluffy-tailed fiends, Squirrels don't like the texture or odor.

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  • WOOD ASH WORKSAs you set out plants, surround each one with a circle of wood ashthat is 1 to 2 inches away from the plant's base. You can also applywood ash to the leaves of bean plants when they're still wet with dew.The ash keeps rabbits from eating the tender young plants .

    KITTY LITTERCats are creatures of habit, and they're fastidious. Appeal to thesecharacteristics to keep them from using your new flower or vegetablebeds as litter boxes. Put out some clean litter in a prepared section ofsoil that is removed from the garden. You might even put some drop-pings there to reinforce the hint. Show kitty the area, and she likelywill use the new "powder room" and leave your tilled soil alone.

    FORKS FOIL CATSNeed another feline-deterring tip?Surround any delicate plants with plastic forks stuck tine-side-up inthe soil. The fork tines will keep neighborhood cats from rompingand rolling over the plant, leaving your garden to grow healthy.

    CATNIP CAGEAre cats destroying your catnippatch? Set an old dish drainer overcatnip plantings to keep the catsfrom pulling their favorite snackout of the ground by the roots.They can still rub on it but theywon't be able to kill it. And thebushy catnip will quickly growlarge enough to hide the drainer.

    ANOTHER TRICK WITH BLOODMEALDried bloodmeal sprinkled lightly on the leaves of crops favored bydeer not only helps fertilize your garden but also keeps those peskynibblers away. Rain washes the dried blood off, but the smell remainsat the base of the plants. Reapply a little more after several rains.

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  • I CHICKEN WIRE 'FENCE'Want to keep cats out of the soft,just-tilled beds they love to dig in?Unroll some chicken wire, andspread it out flat, particularly aroundthe outside of the beds. Because catsdon't like to step on anything coarse,they won't walk over the wire to get.to the inner areas. Once the plantsget going or you mulch the beds, youcan remove the chicken wire.

    SUDSY SOLUTIONRepel deer from your garden with some strongly scented soap. Wrappieces in cheesecloth and hang them from trees or fence posts every12 feet. Replacing the soap after a shower is unnecessary because rainactually renews the aroma.

    STINKY SOUPServe your deer stinky soup to keep them from munching on yourtrees and shrubs.

    Mix 2 teaspoons beef bouillon and 2 well-beaten eggsinto 1gallon of water.

    Place the mixture in an out-of-the-way spot andleave it for several days.

    Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and applyit to the trees.

    Reapply after a heavy rain.

    STATIC- FREE SQUASHIf deer are a problem in your yard or garden, tie antistatic strips orstrips of dryer sheets to your shrubs every few feet. These strongly per-fumed white cloths keep deer far, far away. And periodic rains revivethe scent at least a few times. Replace only every couple of months.

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  • A SHOCKING TREATDeer can be persistent garden munchers. Bill Stockman, owner ofSpider Web Gardens in Center Tufton, ew Hampshire, suggeststhe following method to ensure deer know where and where not todine. Drape aluminum foil spread with peanut butter over a singlestrand of electric fence. Deer love peanut butter and will get a shockwhen they stick their noses on the highly conductive foil.

    CARPET CONTROLMaster Gardener Flo Zack has no trouble with deer in her gardeneven though a herd of deer lives right behind her house. Her secret?Carpet! Make a "fence" by laying discarded pieces of carpet on theground around the outside of your garden in a path 4 to 6 feet wide.Amazingly, deer won't put a foot on it. They're suspicious of the tex-ture.

    Tips

    DEEP PLANTINGPlant tulip bulbs 10 to 12 inches deep in the soil instead of the usual-ly recommended depth of 6 to 8 inches, and you might escape thedestructive tunnels and voracious appetites of voles. Voles tend to digshallow tunnels, so they won't find deep-planted bulbs. This tech-nique may also help tulips perform better for a longer time becauseplanting extra deep discourages bulbs from multiplying.

    TOMATO SAVERHave you ever picked a gorgeous, perfectly ripe tomato only to findthat one of your four-footed adversaries has already gnawed a bighole in it? Fight back by picking early. Once a tomato starts to ripen,it doesn't need light. Pick it and take it inside to finish. Put tomatoesin a cool spot, but keep them out of the refrigerator because the coldwill retard ripening and ruin their homegrown flavor.

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  • I,

    BIRDLESS BERRIESFrank Pollock, a Pennsylvania gar-dener, tried everything to keep birdsout of his blueberries. Nothingworked. The birds just kept comingback for more of his early- and mid-season berries. But, by the time hislate-season berries were ready topick in September, it was a differentstory. The nesting-time food rushwas over, and fewer birds were look-ing to gorge themselves on his har-vest. Plant late-season blueberriesand cherries for lots of fall fruitminus the birds.

    THIRSTY BIRDIESYou might have thirsty birdies if they have been pecking at your toma-toes or strawberries. Birds will go after juicy fruit to supply themselveswith much-needed water. Put out a birdbath and see if they leave yourproduce alone. Not only will your garden be protected, but you'll alsoget to enjoy playful birdbath antics

    GROWING UpIf rabbits are your prime pests, there is an easy way to keep them awayfrom your beans without putting up an elaborate fence. Grow polebeans instead of bush beans. Pole beans quickly grow out of the rab-bits' reach. Of course, your carrots and lettuce are another problem!

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  • CHAPTER 3

    Pest ProjectsNo matter how much you like animals, there is nothing heartwarmingabout a furry creature when it's munching on your gardell's bounty.Repellents, traps, and scare devices can help discourage or fend offhungry wildlife. But in many cases, especially in rural areas, a fence01' other baffle may be the only effective way to keep maraudingmammals away from your yard and garden. If you build it; they willleave and take their stomachs with them. These pest projects are themost effective way of ridding your yard and garden of pesky crittersand ensuring your harvest is just that-your harvest.

    Fencing keeps out grazing critters. The size and type .of fence to usedepends largely on the kind of animal you're trying to stave off. Asim~ple 3-foot-high chicken-wire fence will discourage rabbits, but a moreformidable barrier is necessary to deal with such garden burglars asdeer, raccoons, or woodchucks.

    Cost and appearance are also important considerations. A solid orpicket-type wooden fence is attractive but expensive and difficult toinstall. Wooden fences also tend to shade the perimeter of the garden,which cuts down on the sunlight available to your growing plants,and they require regular maintenance. Wire fencing and electricfencing are less costly but are by no means inexpensive, particularlyif you have a large area to protect.

    You may be able to forgo fencing off your entire garden ororchard by erecting barriers around only those beds or Cl'OpSmostvulnerable to animal pests. Check out Part II for other suggestions.

    Nab the Nibblers .

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    ALL-PURPOSE CHICKEN-WIRE GARDEN FENCEA 3-foot-high chicken-wire fence and a subterranean chicken-wirebarrier can protect your garden from nearly all small- and medium-sized animals, including the burrowing types. Chicken wire comes.ina variety of widths and mesh sizes and. is sold in 50-foot rolls. Thel-inch mesh is best for excluding animal pests.

  • BUILDING THE FENCEThe first step in building a fenceis to decide where you want it torun. Mark the corners with smallstakes and measure the perimeter.You will need two lengths ofl-inch mesh chicken wire: one3 feet wide for the fence itself,and another 1 foot (or more) wideto line an underground trench (oruse one length that's wide enoughto make the aboveground fenceand line the trench).

    You also need one 5-foot postfor each corner, additional 5-footposts for long sections, and one5-foot post for each side of thegate. Steel T-posts are inexpen-sive, can be driven into theground with a hammer or sledge,and come with clips for attachingthe fencing. Rot-resistant wooden

    posts, provide excellent support, but you'll need a post-hole digger toset them. Also, nailing or stapling fencing can be difficult.

    Stretch string between the small stakes to mark the fencing line.Dig a trench 6 inches deep and at least 6 inches wide along the out-side of the string. Bend the I-foot-wide chicken wire into an L shape,so that the wire covers the bottom and one side of the trench. Besure the wire extends an inch or so above ground level.

    Set the posts 2 feet deep along the marked fence line. Stretch the3-foot-wide chicken wire between the posts and attach it to them.The fencing should overlap the trench chicken wire by 2 or 3 inches.Use wire to fasten the two layers together. Then refill the trench withsoil. This general-purpose fence should keep out most gardenthieves, unless you have a persistent pest. In such a case, you canalter the design to suit your situation.

    Chicken-wire-lined trench

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  • ALTERING THE DESIGNIf woodchucks are a serious problem,make the wire-lined trench a foot ormore deep and up to 3 feet wide. Ifyou're trying to keep gophers out, digthe trench 2 feet deep and 6 incheswide, line it with y,f-inch-mesh hard-ware cloth, and fill it with gravel.

    Raccoons are good climbers. Tofoil them, don't attach the top foot offencing to the posts. When the bur-glars clamber up, the loose sectionwill flop backward and keep the rac-coons from climbing over the top.

    If pests continue to raid your gar-den despite the chicken-wire barrier,you can add a single-strand electricfence, as shown on this page. Mostgarden supply stores sell easy-to-install electric fence kits, including aplug-in or battery-powered charger,100 feet of wire, and plastic posts.Check mail-order gardening catalogs, which carry a variety of elec-tric fence products designed with the home gardener in mind.

    DEER FENCINGDeer are more difficult to control with fences. A six-strand high-voltage electric fence, with the wires spaced 10 inches apart and thebottom 8 inches from the ground, is an effective deterrent. But it isan impractical choice for many small-scale gardeners because of thehigh cost and complex installation.

    An alternative is to build a fence that is simply too high for adeer to jump over. The absolute minimum height for a jump-proof,nonelectric deer fence is 8 feet. Because standard woven-wire farmfencing is 4 feet tall, it's a common practice to stack one course ontop of another to create an 8-foot fence.

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    ,I

  • An easier approach is to erect two fences, each 3 or 4 feet high,spaced 3 feet apart, and made of welded wire or snow fencing. Deerseldom jump a fence when they can see another fence or obstacle onthe other side. If you already have a fence around your garden anddeer become a problem, add a 3-foot nonelectric or a 2-foot single-strand electric fence 3 feet outside the existing one.

    Deter the Diggers.

    Digging critters can also be deterred using a variety of fencing. Theall-purpose chicken-wire fence described earlier is designed to keepdiggers out of your garden with the underground trench, but some-times an animal-specific fence is more useful.

    DOG FENCINGSometimes pets just don't respectgarden boundaries. Luckily, there isan effective and attractive way tokeep dogs (and the occasionalhuman) on the path and out of yourgarden. With a little help from thiseasy fence, your dogs will have notrouble recognizing where theyaren't supposed to be.

    Save the prunings from a weepingmulberry bush and cut them in2Vz-footsections. Edge your beds bypushing the prunings' ends into thesoil and intertwining and overlappingthem enough to eliminate dog-sized

    holes. Leave the fence in for the growing season; remove the twigs infall and shred them into your compost pile. If you don't have a weep-ing mulberry, you can achieve the same effect in your garden withtrimmings cherries, weeping willows, or any tree with flexible youngbranches, such as forsythia.

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  • RABBIT AND GROUNDHOG FENCINGYou can create an inexpensive little fence in a short amount of timeto outfox the nosiest and hungriest rabbits and groundhogs. The keyis to start early. You need to erect the fence before the critters getused to feeding on anything in the garden. That way, they won't knowwhat's on the other side. Pound 2- to 3-foot-tall stakes-

    whatever you have on hand is fine-every 15 feet, and run twine betweenthe tops of the stakes. Attach 3-foot-wide strips of used greenhouse plasticto the twine with clothespins. Bury thebottoms of the plastic strips in the soil.This simple fence is successful atkeeping small digging animals out ofthe garden, and it has the added bene-fit of preventing wind damage to yourplants. If you don't have used green-house plastic on hand, ask a localnursery if they have leftover plastic.Or purchase sheets of plastic at ahardware store or garden center.

    POWER FENCINGFor those gardeners with extra-ingenious animals, it may be necessaryto put some additional work into your fencing. Rochelle Paris fromYonkers, New York, finally banished woodchucks from her flower andvegetable garden with the following fencing.

    She initially built the all-purpose 3-foot-high wire fence andburied the bottom 6 inches deep in a trench filled with large rocks.For a few years, the rock-filled trench stopped the burrowing wood-chucks. When some of them learned to climb the fence, Rochelleadded a baffle: She attached 7-inch-wide strips of the same fencing tothe top of the existing fence at a 90-degree angle. It was necessary toadd a garden stake or a wire coat hanger every 8 to 10 feet to hold upthe overhang. Rochelle hasn't had a woodchuck problem since.

    ..

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  • Banish the BirdsDistressed by birds feeding on your straw-berries and sweet corn? Try using anitem intended to keep deer out.

    Buy some inexpensive plastic mesh-the wide kind that's sold for use as tallfencing to keep out deer.

    Cut some wooden tomato stakes intoIS-inch lengths.

    Drive the stakes into the ground at4-foot intervals around the outer edgeof the bed and staple the mesh to thetops of the tomato stakes.

    Place taller green bamboo stakes inthe middle of the bed to hold up thenetting so the patch is nicely tented.

    The sides can flip up for easy picking and harvesting, and you can takethe mesh apart at the end of the season and reuse it year after year.And don't worry about pollination. The bees can get through the mesh.

    Plastic mesh deer fencingis great when you need toprotect a block of comseedling from hungry birds.

    Keep Out Climbers

    It seems gardening and bird watching often go hand in hand. Forgardeners who enjoy bird watching in their backyards, squirrels can bemajor nuisances. Keeping them out of the bird feeders and away fromthe birdhouses is a constant challenge. Even if you aren't an avid birdwatcher, squirrels will dig up bulbs and pull out seedlings. Try the fol-lowing techniques and baffles to squirrel-proof your yard and garden.

    26

    GROUNDCOVER PROTECTIONSome grounc1covers are really tough to penetrate, so little animals maynot bother fighting through them to dig up the bulbs. What shouldyou plant to protect your bulbs? Try sedum, creeping phlox, and sweetwoodruff Although squirrels find the groundcovers too dense to botherwith, most spring bulbs can break through.

  • SQUIRREL-PROOF BIRD FEEDERTo make your own squirrel-proof feeder, you'll needa 2-foot square piece of sheet metal, a lY4-inch-widegalvanized pipe that is at least 8 feet long andthreaded at one end, a large nail, and a drill. Makeor buy a bird feeder, screw a thread-o-let to the threaded end of the pole, and then attach that tothe bottom of the bird feeder.

    Bury 2 feet of the pole in the ground in anarea far enough away from the house and trees that f--2'---isquirrels can't jump on top of the feeder from theseoutposts. Drill a hole about halfway up the pole andstick the nail through it. Cut a circle 2 feet in diameter out of thesheet metal. Make a cut into the center of the circle, and cut away asmaller, center circle that will fit the pole loosely. Wrap the sheetmetal circle around the pole so that it rests on the nail. If a squirrelshould find a way to climb the pole or jump onto the shield, theloose metal cone will move and not support the squirrel's weight.

    SOUIRREL- PROOF-BIRDHOUSERambunctious squirrels often gnaw theentrance holes of bird houses, enlargethem, and move themselves in beforethe birds get a chance. You can squirrel-proof nest boxes with a slate or metalbarrier. The guards are easy to cut andinstall, but you can have a masonry ormetal shop make them.

    You will need a square of slate orsheet metal twice the size of the bird-house's entrance hole. Drill a hole thesame size as the entrance hole in thecenter of the slate. Place the guard flushwith the front of the birdhouse, aligning the holes. Drill into thewood along the outer edges of the guard and attach the slate to thebirdhouse with screws.

    27

  • Wild Things

    According to many Texan gardeners, armadillosare second only to deer in the amount of troublethey cause in gardens. Actually, if it weren't for this critter'sexcavating habit, you'd probably call it a backyard friend.The armadillo feasts on the soil-dwelling lamie of June bugsand other beetles that are highly destructive to lawns andgardens. But when plants are uprooted and the lawn is riddled withruts, it's hard to appreciate Dasypus novemcinctus.

    Facts and Figures~. This garden invader is a native of South America. It now ranges

    as far north as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Louisiana.~. Their bony shells protect armadillos from attacks by predators.~. Because they lack hair, armadillos are easily affected by the

    climate. In summer, they are more active at night. But in winter,they become active during the warmest part of the day.

    ~. Females bear identical quadruplets. Even run-ins with cars-andthere are many-do not set back the armadillo population.

    In the Garden~. Born Diggers: Soil texture tells you where armadillos can be

    found within their geographical range. Where soil is hard to dig,there will be few of these critters. They prefer softer soil, such asthe kind in good gardens. They also hang out near streams andwater holes and indulge in mud baths.

    Help!The best way to discourage the armored armadillo is to get rid of thefood that attracts it to your yard. Apply beneficial nematodes to killthe grubs. Wet the soil, mix the microscopic parasites with the water,and spray on the surface of the soil or lawn. Keep the area moist forseveral weeks afterward.

    29

  • From black to brown to rainbow-colored,bear can be found in children's litera-ture and children' bedrooms acrossAmerica. Their fuzzy ears, rely-polybodies, and sweet doglike faces make bearsseem like warm and lumpy companions. Unfortunately, their lumber-ing size sharp jaws and claws, and attraction to garbage also make thema nuisance in the backyard and sometimes a danger in the woods.

    Bears usually keep to themselves. It is only the encroachment ofhuman society on their once-wild homes that brings bears into ouryards. Visiting bears may be after your garbage, compost, birdseed,berries, bulbs, or new plants. If unconfronted, bears will take what theywant and quietly leave. The nuisance becomes a problem when theymake your yard or garden a regular stop on their search for a meal.

    30

    Facts and Figures~. There are three types of North American bears: black, brown, and

    polar bears. Black bears have the widest distribution arid are foundthroughout Canada, along the u.S.-Canada border, down the Eastand West coasts, and in the Rockies. Brown bears and their subspecies(the grizzlies and Kodiaks) are found in the Northwest. Polar bears areonly found in the far northwestern reaches of the continent.

    ~. Brown bears range in color from yellowish to dark brown. Theymay be 3Yz feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 800 pounds.

    ~. Despite their name, black bears range in color from reddish tocinnamon or gray and may weigh from 200 to 300 pounds.

    ~. Mating usually occurs in late June or early July. Although fertilized,the egg isn't implanted in the uterus until around November. Fromthen the gestation is only 6 to 8 weeks, and cubs are born in winter.First-time mothers have one cub, but twins are the norm thereafter.Cubs usually weigh only 6 to 10 ounces at birth.

    to Bears live solitary lives except when a mother is raising young orwhen a male and female pair up for a month or so in summer tomate. They hibernate in rock crevices, in caves, under stumps or

  • logs] and even under buildings. (Bears in thesouthern regions don't hibernate.)

    .. In the Garden~. Hangouts: Bears are most active at dawn anddusk. They usually sleep at night in densebrush] but when food is plentiful] they may beactive all day and night.

    ~. Food: Black bears are mostly vegetarian, butgrizzlies eat more meat than fruits and nuts.Grizzlies are expert fishers and will also dig intothe ground after tubers] bulbs] and roots. Blackbears eat grasses and emerging plants in spring]tree and shrub fruit and berries in summer] andberries] larger fruits] and nuts in fall. Both blackbears and grizzlies eat insects, grubs] mice, andvoles] which could be helpful to a gardener] butthey are destructive feeders] ripping apart treesand gardens to get at their prey.

    Help!The only truly effective method for getting rid ofbears is not attracting them in the first place. Bear-resistant garbage cans are a necessity, but theymust be strong because bears are known to tearthrough some of the sturdiest brands. Avoidputting kitchen food on your compost pile. Bearslove compost almost as much as they love garbage.And site fruit and berry bushes and trees awayfrom your house and garden. You can install anelectric fence as a deterrent] but. nothing is fool-proof when it comes to bears.

    Trapping is an option in extreme cases] but it'snot something you can do. Call your local wildlifeagency if you repeatedly experience severe damageor if you think the bear may be dangerous.

    31

  • 32

    People know beavers as industrious, tree-felling,dam-building, lodge-living animals. They arethe animal kingdom's models of the work ethicincarnate. Although we might admire thisbehavior in principle, all of this industry canbe a pain if it's applied to your property.

    Aquatic engineers with minds of their own(including their own ideas about who holdsthe title to the pond), beavers will fell yourfavorite trees, gnaw on your just-planted shrubs,dam your trickling stream, and flood your well-groomed yard. And tearing down that beaverdam in anger won't do you any good. Thebeavers will simply build another home a fewdays later, and you could end up paying a bigfine. Many areas have wildlife laws that prohibitthe destruction of animal dens.

  • Facts and Figures~. Beavers range throughout the United States.~. Unlike most rodents, beavers are especially adapted for living in or

    near watery environments, such as wooded lakes, ponds, streams,and other wetlands. And they are our largest rodents, weighing 35

    ,:to 50 pounds and measuring 25 to 30 inches long.~. Because they spend much of their time in the water, beavers have

    warm, thick, reddish-brown fur and secrete an oily substance fromglands near their tails that acts as a waterproof shield.

    ~. Beavers have unusually long, sharp incisors that gr~w continuously.~. Dens are so labor-intensive to build and maintain that beavers live

    in colonies. A colony usually consists of an adult male and femalepair, the current season's offspring, and the previous year's offspring.

    ~.Adult females are dominant, and they mate for life. Breeding takes. place between January and March in the North and betweenNovember and January in the South. Gestation lasts about 100days, and females bear two or three kits per litter.

    In the Garden~. Hangouts: Beavers are generally nocturnal; however, it's not

    unusual to see them during the day. Otherwise, they snuggleup in their den, a dam built across running water.

    ~. Damage: Like humans, beavers alter the environment when theymake a home. They can fell your favorite landscape trees, chewthrough your shed walls, or flood your garden.

    Help!If you want to keep beavers away from specific trees, fence the trees offwith thick burlap. Wrap the material around the tree so the rodentcan't sink its teeth into the bark. For extra protection, spray the burlapwith cayenne pepper. Of course, the beavers will simply chooseunwrapped trees to fell instead. If you don't mind sharing your streamand possibly ending up with a beaver pond, this is the most uninvasivemethod. Call your local wildlife agency if you experience severe dam-age or want a beaver dam removed.

    33

  • \2.-Fido and FluEy might be the best ofpets when you have them in the house,but as soon as the.' escape into thebig, beautiful. 'ard, ~'our darlingpets are tearin ~ up broccolipulling out ca ip, and diggingup carrot . Cats and do don'talwai recognize the boundaries0- a garden, It is the gardener's job toteach them where to play and where not toplay, The same holds true for strays. If aneighbor' cat is using your flowerbed for alitter box or the local vagabond dog hasdecided your row of cabbages is the perfectplace to dig and roll, you can do something about it.

    Cat Facts and Figures~Xlales mark an object by spraying a strong mixture of urine and

    fluid from ana] scent glands, When cats rub against our legs, theyare marking us as their property with secretions from glands locat-ed on their faces and tail tips.

    ~. Cats usually breed once or twice a year, and gestation lasts 63 to6- dav ,.\ mother cat will seek out a dark, secluded spot to givebirth to her litter.

    Cats In the Garden~. Catnip: Cats are naturally attracted to their namesake herb, catnip,

    and will literally tear the plants right out of the ground. They'rea1 0 \'ery attracted to seaweed fertilizers you may be spraying andwill dig up plants to find the elusive fish in the garden.

    ~. Kitty Litter: trav and pets both enjoy using the soft garden soil asa litter box, Tnfortunately digging up little presents while plantingbegonias u uallv isn t a gardener's favorite activity.

    34

  • Dog Facts and Figures~. All dogs are social animals'that treat their

    humans as pack leaders.~. Males tend to mark their house or yard, but

    all dogs will mark an object. The markings'help make an area familiar and assist incommunication with other dogs and animals.

    ~. Female dogs usually come into estrus 2 timesa year; they give birth after a 59- to 63-daygestation period.

    Dogs In the Garden~. Born to Dig: Dogs just love to roll and dig,

    and the soft, tilled soil of the garden is per-fect for that sort of doggie fun. If your petsare running off energy by tearing through theyard at top speed, a wrong turn may leadthem through your seedlings.

    Help!Keeping cats and dogs out of the garden isusually simple. The best-laid plan is one ofprevention. A protective layer of chicken wire

    in front of new plantings will be enoughto keep cats out of the fluffy soil.Vinegar sprayed on an area thatmight be visited by a stray malecat will mark your territory anddiscourage its attention. A sim-ple low-rise border will keepdogs from taking a detourthrough your vegetable beds.You can train dogs to stayout of the garden, and bor-ders or fences will deter cats.

    35

  • Maybe it's their preference for roadkill; maybeit's the old folk superstition that a lone crow is aportent of death. Whatever the reasons, mostpeople consider crows trouble-making nuisances.

    Crows have big brains for birds. They live infamily groups in which one member often actsas a lookout for the others. And despite their rep-utation for raiding gardens, their appetite fordamaging insects, including white lawn grubs,can actually make them beneficial.

    Facts and Figures~. The four species of crows belong to the family

    Corvidae, which includes ravens, jays, andmagpies. The most widespread species is theAmerican crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos),which is found in every state except Hawaii.

    ~. Adults are 17 to 21 inches long, weigh about apound, and are entirely black. Their colorenables crows to identify one another from agreat distance; at night it helps them hidefrom predators, such as raccoons and owls.

    ~. Crows live an average of 7 or 8 years. In latefall and winter, crows roost in groups number-ing up to several thousand birds. If you standin your backyard an hour before sunset, you'lllikely see small groups of crows flying alongestablished flight lines toward their nightroost. Crows are partially migratory, goingsouth only as far as necessary. Unless Januarytemperatures consistently drop below OaF,crows usually stay put.

    36

  • ~. Crows mate for life and never chase off their children. Until theyfind a mate, juveniles may stick around for years, helping theirparents build nests and bring food to their younger siblings.

    ~. Besides their signature caw, crows also utter rattles, clicks, andbell-like tones. They've been known to imitate not only humanspeech but also engines, barking dogs, and ringing telephones.

    In the Garden~. Food: Crows eat almost anything: grasshoppers, snakes, garbage,

    and waste grain in fields. But earthworms make up much oftheir diet in spring. Crows also prey on baby birds and gardenseedlings-habits that don't endear them to gardeners.

    Help!Are crows molesting your garden? Forget plastic owls or scarecrows.Crows are too smart to be fooled for more than a few hours or evenminutes. It's better toring your garden ortempting plants withstring and tie on long,shiny ribbons, strips ofaluminum foil, oreven some old CDs-anything that glittersand flaps in the wind.

    However, thebirds are extremelypersevering when itcomes to food. Youmay have to alter theenvironment periodi-cally to keep themwary and out of yourvegetable garden.

    37

  • Although Bambi's family can look cute standing in your yard, theyare not as innocent as they may seem. Deer can be either agentlenuisance or a downright detriment to your plantings, dependingon how many of them are in your neighborhood.

    If your asparagus has been nipped right off at the ground orthe sweet buds of your favorite bulbs have been stolen before theybloom, you have experienced the damage caused by grazing deer.Fortunately, you don't have to play the part of the gardener-with-the-gun to forego deer damage.

    Facts and Figures~. Males live in small groups of two to five; females, or does, live

    in larger groups of two to nine, including offspring.~. The adult male deer weigh between 200 to 350 pounds, and

    does weigh roughly 120 to 210 pounds.~. Depending on which part of the country they're located in,

    deer breed any time between October and January. After agestation period of about 6Yz months, does give birth to fawns,usually in Mayor June.

    ~. While deer typically bear twins, the number of fawns dependson how abundant the food sources have been. Under optimumconditions, females may mate at a year old and bear twins.

    ~. Deer change their coats tomatch the season. At birth,fawns are rust-colored withwhite spots. This combina-tion effectively camouflagesthe young deer. In summer,adults sport a reddish-browncoat, which changes to a gray-brown coat in fall and winter.

    ~. Some whitetail deer live aslong as 20 years.

    38

  • In the Garden~. Food: Deer love corn, most vegetables,

    fruit trees (leaves, flowers, and bark), shrubbery, and flowers, especially roses.

    Keep in mind, though, that a deer's pref-~rence will vary according to what's avail-able. When they're hard-pressed, they'lldevour nearly any edible plant.

    Help!Installing an electric fence is the most effec-tive way to keep deer out, but it isn't alwayspractical for many home gardeners.Conventional fences should be 8 feet highfor maximum protection. Deer are also notlikely to jump a high, solid fence, such asone made of stone or wood. Check out"Nab the Nibblers" in Chapter 3 for moredeer fencing suggestions.

    If deer are damaging a few select trees orshrubs, encircle individual plants with 4-foot-high cages made from galvanized hard-ware cloth. The hardware cloth should beseveral feet away from the plants so the hun-gry deer can't reach over and nibble.

    For minor deer-damage problems, repel-lents may be effective. Buy soap bars in bulkand hang them from strings in trees, orhang nylon stockings filled with hair(human, cat, or dog) around vulnerableplants. Spray plants with a mixture of two orthree rotten eggs blended in a gallon ofwater, or 2 tablespoons of hot pepper sauceper gallon of water. (Spray plants thoroughlyand make sure to reapply after rain.)

    39

    --~--------~--------------------

  • IIiI:I

    "(... ~,,..,." ~-c,.. ~.5 \::- ~

    ,J:' -,'" .-.,,- \ -c "'f.,. s:""".,, I

  • Pocket gophers are thick-bodied rodents. Theylove their vegetables and unlike moles, will eatthe plants they find tucked underground.,

    Facts and Figures~. The gopher is a small mammal, 6 to 12 inch-

    es long and weighing from 1 to 1Vz pounds.There are 33 different species across the u.s.

    ~. Gophers have long claws on their forepaws fordigging and long whiskers to help them sensetheir way. Their tails help guide them inreverse.*. Gophers breed once a year in the north butmay breed year-round in warmer areas. Thefemale gives birth to one to seven young.

    ~. Because gophers don't hibernate, their tun-nels need to be deep and warm. Gophers usetheir tunnels for breeding, nesting, and resting.

    In the Garden~. Food: The gopher rarely ventures above

    ground except to gather bark, grass, or greens.They eat roots and pull vegetation intotheir tunnel.

    Help!Exclude gophers from youryard with an underground \ lfence. Bury a strip ofhardware cloth so that itextends 2 feet below and 2 feetabove the soil surface aroundyour garden or around individualtrees. A border of oleander plants mayrepel gophers as well.

    41

  • ~ .As children, we took pleasure in PeterRabbit's narrow escapes and cheered for BugsBunny. And rabbits are cute and fun towatch. But when it comes to our gardens andour efforts to keep bunnies out of them, manygardeners identify with Mr. McGregor andthe shotgun-wielding Elmer Fudd.

    Whether you love or hate them, it's diffi-cult to deny that these cute and voraciousherbivores are fascinating mammals. Theymove quickly, reproduce exponentially, andadapt to a wide range of habitats, especially'lawns and gardens.

    Facts and Figures~. That bunny hopping about your yard is

    most likely a cottontail, which gets itsname from the white underside of its tail.There are 13 species of cottontails inNorth America. The most widespread isSylvilagus floridanus, the eastern cottontail.

    ~. Although most wild rabbits live only a year,females may bear 3 to 6 litters of 3 to 8babies each. Gestation lasts just 1 month,and mothers will mate again within hoursof giving birth. The 'young are born help- .less, hairless, and blind, but they can fendfor themselves in 3 weeks.

    ~. Eastern cottontails can run up to 18 milesper hour and jump up to 15 feet in one'frantic bound. When pursued, they willpivot, zigzag, and even fling themselvesinto water and swim.

    42

  • .-.-.-.-.--~~---~-~~--~------~.

    In the Garden~. Hangouts: Cottontails forage mostly at dawn and dusk, but they

    also feed at night. They live in burrows and prefer "edge" habi-tats. The fields, woods, and hedgerows of their homes providecover from predators and irate gardeners.

    ~. Food: Rabbits favor a diet of clover, grasses, wildflowers, lettuce,and other greens, so it's no wonder they raid gardens. When foodgets scarce, rabbits will nibble the bark off trees and shrubs.

    Help!Fencing with openings smaller than 2 inches by 2 inches is themost effective tool for defending your garden against rabbits. Thefence should extend several inches underground. Some gardenersplant a decoy crop of soybeans. Cottontails love soybeans and mayignore a garden in favor of a soy snack. Cats and dogs can be superb "guards, giving chase whenever hungry bunnies try to raid the peapatch. To guard fruit trees and canes against ravenous rabbits inwinter, wrap their trunks with hardware cloth, burlap, plastic, oraluminum foil, extending the guards at least 18 inches above thehighest snowfall. (Rabbits' paws are the original snowshoes.) .'

    43

    iiI

  • Raccoons like bears, are as cute as can be. Their doglike faces, longfluffy fur, and humanlike hands and habits automatically endearthem to us. We are surprised to find raccoons playing like monkeysin treetops or neatly washing their food before they dine.

    But these masked bandits lead double lives: By day, they enter-tain people lucky enough to catch them off guard. By night, rac-coons, as their masks imply, are thieves that pillage gardens andgarbage cans looking for food and fun.

    Facts and Figures~. Raccoons range from southern Canada to South America, and

    populations in the United States are about the same today as theywere in the mid-1800s.

    ~. The raccoon is a small mammal, measuring 20 to 30 inches longand weighing 15 to 35 pounds. Its fur is grayish brown with abushy, banded tail and the familiar black mask.

    ~. A male controls a large area, and several females may live in histerritory. Mating season begins in December in the South and inJanuary or February in the North. Gestation lasts 63 days, and afemale will give birth to 3 or 4 kits.

    ~. Raccoons often prefer to den in a hollow tree, but they have alsobeen known to move into other animals' burrows and dens whenthey find them temporarily empty.

    44

  • In the Garden~. Food: Raccoons love corn and will strip

    ears clean. They like melons and willbore small holes in the fruit and scoopthe insides out. In addition to fresh fruitand vegetables, raccoons will steal fromyour garbage cans and compost piles ifthey aren't well secured.

    Help!Although it may not be practical for homegardeners, installing an electric fence is thebest way to prevent raccoon damage. If youdecide to install an electric fence, you'llneed two strands of wire-one at 6 inchesabove the ground and the other at 12 inch-es above the ground. You'll also need to usefiberglass posts because raccoons can climbwooden ones without any trouble.

    Lighting the garden at night may alsowork as a deterrent. Or try planting squashamong the corn; the prickly foliage maykeep coons at bay. Protect small corn plant-ings by wrapping ears at the top and bot-tom with strong tape. This prevents rac-coons from pulling the ears off the plants.Or try covering each ear with a paper bagsecured with a rubber band. Remove thetape and paper bags during the day toensure cross-pollination and a good harvest.

    45

  • Voles are often confused with mice. Althoughthe two rodents look alike and may cause similardamage, they are only distantly related.

    Voles are vegetarians, eat their weight in plantfood every day, and are the likely culprits whenyou find damage in your garden.

    Facts and Figures~' Voles are stubby, stocky animals with brown or

    gray fur and short legs and tail.~' They tend to breed in spring and summer, but

    they are able to breed year-round. They usuallyhave one to five litters a year and have three tosix young each time. But each female vole canhave up to a hundred offspring in a year.

    ~' The home range of a vole is usually a Y;acre orless. They move around in a complex systemof tunnels and surface runways.

    In the Garden~' Food: Voles eat almost any green vegetation,

    including tubers, bulbs, vegetables, and roots.Certain species eat the bark and roots of fruittrees and can do severe damage.

    ,~~

    Help!. ~'.tf"'::'Barriers can prevent voles from nibbling a~f) >'/your trees. Sink cylinders of K-inch-mesh ~t;, ,

    '1'1./,1.1).'hardware cloth several inches into the soil"" raround the bases of trees. Repellents, suchas those for deer control, may work to reducedamage. Or you can modify their habitat byremoving vegetative covers, such as mulch, fromaround trees and shrub trunks.

    46

  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a wood-chuck could chuck wood? We will never know theanswer to that age-old question because woodchucksdon't chuck wood. They chuck soil. Also called ground-hogs, woodchucks are large, lumbering animals foundin the northeast United States and Canada.

    Their soil chucking ability makes them critters that gardeners don'tlike to see hanging around the yard. According to the U.S. Department.of Agriculture, a single woodchuck can move more than 700 poundsof soil in 1 day. Whether they actually do, is anybody's guess.

    Facts and Figures~. Woodchucks, or Mannota monax, have compact, chunky bodies

    that are 16 to 20 inches long, covered with grizzled brownish grayfur, and supported by short, strong legs. Males weigh 5 to 14pounds, and the females are a little more petite.

    ~. Breeding occurs in March. and April. After a gestation period ofabout a month, the female gives birth to a single litter of two to six.

    . ~. Woodchuck burrows are commonly found in fields or pastures ornear fencerows, stone walls, roadsides, tree bases, or gardens.

    ~. Once cold weather rolls around (near the end of October), wood-chucks hibernate until late February or March. They are amongthe few mammals that enter into true hibernation.

    In the GardenFood: Woodchucks are primarily vegetarians. Like many otherrodents, they feed on a variety of wild grasses and crops, such asalfalfa. clover, beans, peas, and carrots-the tenderer the better!

    - -~ zen-wire fence with a chicken-wire-lined trench will. ucks. See the instructions for constructing one on

    page __. orne gardeners protect their young plants from woodchucksby covering them with plastic or floating row covers.

    47

    I,,. ,

  • --~------~

    Outwitting CrittersA Humane Guide for ConfrontingDevious Animals and Winning

    by Bill Adler Jr.

    .'. till

    Outwitting~

    Outwitting Critters is the definitiveresource for coping with the nettlesomeside of nature. All those who have battledany number of pests will find solace andsolutions in the pages of this book.

    More than 30 animal pests and morethan 10 insect pests detailed fromtheir birth to your yard.

    Information on the motivationbehind the often incomprehensibleactions of your animal friends andfoes.

    Humane advice and nontoxicsolutions for ridding your homeand garden of uninvited woodlandguests.

    Comprehensive resource lists outlin-ing helpful organizations and deter-rent products.

  • ~.RODALE BPM

    00003890519001

    Printed in USA Printed on 50% Recycled Paper~ 10% Post Consumer Waste

    l