You make everything possible to ensure that your plants grow big and strong so you can become less dependent on grocery stores and make sure that your pantry is well-stocked. If animals ruin your hard work it can be devastating for your morale and that’s why you need to learn how to protect your garden from critters.
In your area, there could be many animals that would love to feast on your garden and trample it when you are not around. Each animal has specific preferred plants, fruits and vegetables and you need different countermeasures. There is no general solution to keep critters away and you need to learn what works best before you put up an electric fence or you spray your garden with coyote urine. Before you set up traps or go on a hunting spree, it is best to learn about the ways to prevent animals from being attracted to your garden in the first place.
Protect your garden from critters – Rabbits
Back home, I remember my parents used to have to deal with rabbit invasions, as they used to call it. Although it is rather easy to keep rabbits away from your garden since they’re shy creatures and can’t climb, they can become a problem if not dealt with. Rabbits repopulate rapidly and worst of all, they have a large appetite that overcomes their fear of humans or natural predators. Your beans, peppers an lettuce will get decimated if rabbits enter your garden. Here are some suggestions that actually work to protect your garden from critters:
- Create a spicy mix and spray your plants with it. There are various nonpoisonous deterrents you can spray on and around your plants to keep rabbits away. Mix vinegar with water and powdered cayenne pepper and spray it on the surface of fruits and vegetables. The rabbits won’t go near it because they hate the smell. Spreading coyote urine is also an effective method of keeping rabbits away from your garden.
- Use raised garden beds. If you use a raised garden bed, the rabbits will stay away from your garden because they have a natural fear of being exposed. These are animals that like staying low and secluded in the grass to avoid being spotted by birds of prey.
- Elevate your plants. I remember that my parents used to plant whatever they liked in large pots because the rabbits couldn’t get to them. These shy animals can’t jump very high and my mother used to keep her herbs on pots hanged high up.
- Build a fence. This option works great and you don’t need to build something complicated. A solid fence with no gaps will do just fine and you can build it 15 inches above ground and 7 inches below.
- Raw eggs a method of the old ways. This is something that I’ve learned from my parents and I’ve passed it on to everyone I know. Raw eggs have a double action; they detract rabbits and provide a good fertilizer for your plants. All you need to do is place the eggs and crushed shells in your soil and you won’t have to worry about rabbits.
- Companion planting is another option. There are some plants that keep rabbits away and you should consider planting them in your garden. Rabbits will stay away from: Siberian iris, salvia, daylilies, peonies and veronica. Research more about companion planting and learn about the benefits it brings to your garden.
Suggested article: Repel garden pests with companion planting
Protect your garden from critters – Squirrels
Squirrels can become a real problem for your garden since there isn’t any fence big enough to prevent them from entering your garden. Even more, these tiny creatures will eat any plant from your garden, as long as it is not poisonous. They have the nasty habit to taste plants and will often take a bite of an unripe fruit or vegetable and move on to the next one. You will find whole plants of half-eaten produce if you don’t take care of this problem.
- Try to attract predators. Predators of any kind will keep squirrels away and I remember that our dogs used to keep the garden squirrel free since they loved chasing them. If you don’t have a dog, you can attract birds of prey to your garden. This can be done based on the environment you live in. If you have a wooded backyard encouraging nesting is easier. If you don’t have a natural water source nearby, installing a birdbath will do wonders. Even more, you can install nesting boxes on your property to encourage birds to breed there and keep them in your yard.
- The spicy mix works great. Just like for rabbits, spraying your plants with a spicy mix will do wonders. Since squirrels have the nasty habit of taking a bite of any plant under the sun, if they take a bite of something sprayed, they won’t try any other plants.
- Coffee grounds. My father-in-law used to keep squirrels away from his garden by using coffee grounds. This is a method that can be tried on other critters as well because they hate the scent of coffee. You can use a thin layer around your yard to discourage squirrels from entering your garden and refresh it every two weeks. If it has rained, you should refresh the layer to keep the scent fresh.
- There is netting made specifically to protect your garden from squirrels, but also from other rodents. You can build a structure around your garden to enclose your plants, or you can lay it on top of your plants to prevent the squirrels from jumping on them.
- Companion planting. Here are some plants that squirrels will stay away from: peonies, lilacs, salvia, sedum, gaura, snapdragons, columbine and lavender. Consider planting these plants in your garden and do a thorough research about their use in companion planting.
Protect your garden from critters – Deer
Although deer don’t like being around people and are shy creatures in nature, given the chance, they will destroy your garden and leave you with nothing to salvage. Since you can’t guard your garden all day long to make your presence noticed, you need to find other methods to protect your garden. Deer love to eat the same plants that we love to eat, but they are more attracted by beans, squash, corn, eggplants and berries. To protect your garden from critters, do the following:
- Try companion planting. There are some plants that deer hate and will not eat due to their taste. Plants such as allium, artemesia, festuca, nepeta, salvia, virburnum and monarda. Although these plants are not edible by humans, they will make your garden look good and keep deer away.
- Spread human and animal hair in your garden. This method is used by many and it seems to work, although many suggest that it works best on fawns, which are particularly wary of humans and other predators. Collect some hair from the vacuum cleaner and just sprinkle it around the yard and near your plants. This should do the trick and deer should stay away from your garden.
- Distracting them sometimes works. There are those who use birdfeed to distract deer and keep them away from their plants. Many suggest that buying enough feed to keep them out of their garden is less costly than repairing the plant damage they would do to your garden. The problem with this method is that there will be a lot of competition and every animal that passes through your garden will enjoy this feed. As I said, this should be tried based on the environment you live in and the critters you have to deal with.
- Sound is the key. Scarring deer off with sound works and there are many ways to do so. A sudden ding or loud noise will scare a heard of deer away and it works every time. Get a loud motion detector or set a jingly (noisy) wind chime in a windy area and let it do its magic.
- Predator urine. Buying a bottle of sprayable predator urine is the most common method to keep deer away from your garden. However, this is short-term solution and they will eventually realize that there is no actual predator in the area, and it is just the scent. Letting your dog run wild and do some “hunting” practice will increase the effectiveness of this method.
- Build a fence (electric if possible). Deer won’t give up easily and many will prefer to build a fence to get rid of these problem. Although this can be costly, it is a method that works if your fence is a minimum of 10 feet high and electric.
Suggested reading: Organic pest control for your garden
Protect your garden from critters – Moles and ground hogs
These are the critters that will keep you busy and are the most difficult animals to keep out of your garden. They can be found in every climate, they burrow underneath the ground and build a network of underground tunnels with the sole purpose of making your garden their personal restaurant. These critters eat their own weight in food every 24 hours and if you want to keep your garden safe, you need drastic measures. They will attack your root vegetable first and when they are done with them, they will eat anything above ground, even unripe fruits and vegetables.
- Try companion plants. Moles and groundhogs are not attracted to allium, daffodils and grape hyacinths and they will stay away if you have these plants in your garden.
- Attracting birds of prey and spreading predator urine works. These methods work as well but in time, the problem will get overwhelming and you need to consider killing these critters.
- Castor beans the final solution. This plant has a long history of being used and it is where ricin comes from. This is a tall and colorful plant that grows delicious tasting beans that will take care of your underground critter problem. However, I must warn you that there are some risks involved in using this plant in your garden. If you have pets or small children, this plan can prove deadly if a castor bean is ingested. While handling the plant is not dangerous, the contents of the bean are extremely deadly. This is a last resort and the seeds and beans of this plant will attract and kill all animals that come in contact with them.
There are many reasons of why people get into gardening. Some want to have a more sustainable life while others want to enjoy the benefits of growing their own produce and live of the land. Regardless the reason, learning how to protect your garden from critters is an important step in making sure your garden is being used to its full potential. The above suggestions will help you protect your garden from critters and make sure all your gardening work pays off.
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