Having a successful garden, whether vegetable or ornamental is not always easy. Definitely enjoyable, but none the less, having a successful garden is difficult. There are multitudes of things that can go wrong, so we don’t need additional problems caused from the wildlife in our habitat. Respect our wildlife friends and learn to adapt to living with them. The animals are learning to thrive in their adaption to human occupation of their environment as we must learn to adapt to their occupation.
Small animals (rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs, etc.) enjoy munching on garden veggies. There seem to be a great number of remedies to repel the little critters. Having your own defensive army of dogs and cats seems to be high on that list, but who wants the dogs running and digging in the vegetable garden or cats depositing baby rabbits on the front porch.
Apparently, the small critters turn and run from smelly things. Used kitty litter, moth balls, dried sulfur, dried blood, blood meal, human hair, and strong smelling soap all are included in the lists of critter repellants. All of these listed items may be repellents, but the only truly effective way to limit the gardens exposure is to fence it in. Chicken wire fencing 30” tall is enough to keep the rabbits at bay. Raccoons and groundhogs are harder to deter, and will require higher, heavier duty construction, and it may have to be electrified to have success. All can and will dig under wire, so in addition to above ground, we need about 8 inches below ground too. Remember also that trapping and transporting them is only relocating the problem to someone else.
The big black bears require a different approach and gardening amongst them is best addressed by humans adapting to their presence. Bears are omnivorous…your fruits and berries and bee hives are their smorgasbord. Having any of these is an invitation for the bears to visit, but there are many things we can do to limit additional invitations. For instance:
- Secure garbage in shed or garage until absolutely necessary to put on street. Leftover human food should be limited in trash…and freezing the leftovers will help eliminate the smell. Apply ammonia to garbage to repel the bears.
- Remove leftover pet food and store inside.
- Clean grill and grease catcher after each use.
- Suspend bird feeders 10 feet high and 6 feet away from trees or eliminate completely in warm weather. Feed the birds in the winter while the bears are hibernating (November to March).
- Sprinkle lime on compost.
- Remove any food from your car.
- Harvest fruit and veggies as soon as ripe. Remove fallen fruit from the ground.
- Remove citronella candles from outside sitting areas.
- Place electric fencing around bee hives and orchards.
Many of us have elected to live in the mountains and with the wildlife that is abundant in those mountains. Adaptation is our key to successful gardening, living and loving our environment and habitat. Enjoy!
Article written by Patsy McNatt, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.