Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pests in My Garden

Generally speaking I like squirrels and rabbits. Rabbits more than squirrels as they are cute, fuzzy and can make nice pets. Squirrels are likeable for the entertainment they bring as long as they maintain their distance. But as related to my garden one could consider squirrels and rabbits my foe.

Rabbits seem to have stayed away from my newly revamped garden. Did I previously mention that I planted spinach? Really for what I thought might be it's ornamental value. The plants have barely sprouted so the jury is out as to whether or not rabbits will visit my garden in the future for a nibble. In years past rabbits were highly suspect for eating my patio tomatoes. The only thing I ever caught them eating was foliage as they innocently hopped along in my backyard.

Squirrels are a different story entirely. I have caught them red handed. Well really I've caught them hanging from my bird feeder helping themselves to seeds intended for our backyard birds, trampling my potted morning glories in the process. However I am postive that their's are the tiny paws that dug up all but a hand full of my previously planted sunflower seeds. If they didn't get to the seeds they were sure to reduce the plant to a bare stalk. Lots of sowing, very little reaping!
This year has been different thanks to help from a friend and master gardener. Her advice was to place human hair (taken from a hairbrush) around the garden. Squirrels smell it, think that a human is near and stay clear of the area. She suggested alternating this tactic with others such as sprinkling cayenne pepper around the garden, squirrels do not like the smell. One trick does not fool squirrels for extended periods and alternating tricks give you a better chance of keeping them at bay.

In addition I heard a story told by Dr. Mark Rutland in which he mentioned the use of blood meal in a garden to deter dear and other animals from helping themselves to its contents. He referred to blood meal as being a very smelly liquid that was poured around the boundary of the garden. No animal crossed that boundary line. Technology has come a long way and now there are non smelly granules that you can mix in with your soil.

I used both of these methods and I have healthy, growing sunflowers. The long term deterrent seems to be the blood meal. Even easy access sunflowers on my back deck have not been eaten. Soon large round heads framed by yellow petals will appear on each plant as will many meaty seeds. I'll even share with the squirrels.

~GG in the house

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