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In this section of the web site we will attempt to identify some of the animals you might have trouble with in your vegetable garden and some techniques that can be used to discourage them.


Deer

Deer In The Pea PatchDeer can be a real pest in many areas, especially those who live near woods. It is said that a deer fence, at least 6 feet tall will deter them, but most of us don’t have a fence like this. For those who don’t, experiment with some of these suggestions:

Try using mix #4 (raw egg), as deer don’t like the smell of raw eggs, and this will many times repel them. Also try mix #16 (fish/kelp), as deer don’t like fish emulsion, kelp and pepper sauce. Mix #6 (ammonia) is said to be effective, as is mix #7 (thiram).

Deer also don’t like the smell of soap, so try trick #5 (Dial soap). Many hunters have learned that deer both dislike and distrust anything with soap on it, which is why hunters will not use soap when hunting.


Moles

Mole Creating Tunnels Under The CarrotsMoles look like mice but burrow (tunnel) underground. They can chew-up your lawn in no time and can attack the vegetables from their underground tunnels. To eliminate them, try using trick #1 (Juicy Fruit gum), or mix #3 (castor oil), placing the castor oil mix directly into the holes and tunnels.

You can try trick #4 (human hair) that will sometimes prevent the moles from entering their tunnels, or mix #17 (cat litter), placing the used cat litter into the holes and runways of the moles.

You can also use trick #11 (cheap perfume), pouring this in the openings and tunnels of the moles. They associate perfume with humans and will try to avoid the tunnels if they smell anything associated with us.


Rabbits

Rabbit Feasting On Some LettuceMost rabbits are of the Cottontail variety, the so-called bunny rabbit, which love to eat beans, beet tops, carrots, lettuce and peas, and tend not to like corn, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. Rabbits breed like, well, rabbits and typically produce two to three litters per year, each litter containing between three to five young. Since young rabbits are sexually mature in only a few months after birth, populations can explode when food is abundant – food from your garden that is! They normally live for a year or so and can even be active during winter, as they don’t really hibernate.

The best defense is a three-foot high chicken wire fence. Deer repellent is said to scare away rabbits as well as inflatable snakes. Try trick #4 (human hair) putting the hair into nylon socks or stockings, placing it new where the rabbits are nesting. Trick #6 (moth balls) is said to work well, as is trick #9 (chicken wire). Mix #6 (ammonia) is said to be effective, as is mix #7 (thiram). Also, trick #12 (glass water jar) has been reported to work.

We set traps for rabbits and have caught a few of them, which we move to a new location about a mile away. Corkie, our Pembroke Corgi, loves to chase rabbits and scare them off of the property. He has never caught one but came close several times. Generally, when Corkie is around there are no rabbits to be seen anywhere near the garden.


Raccoons

Raccoon Enjoying A Meal Of CornOne of the worst animals of the vegetable gardener! This creature is very smart and cunning and knows when the vegetables, especially sweet corn, are ripe and ready for harvest. We found this out in the late summer of 2003, then, just two days before we were scheduled to pick the corn, the raccoons raided it and took about 50% of the cobs. And once they find your corn, they will return year after year to get it.

Signs of raccoon damage include broken stalks, shredded husks, scattered kernels and gnawed, or partially gnawed, cob ends. When the raccoons ate our corn, they only took a few bites of the cob – enough to make you not want to eat it – and left the rest.

What can be done? We talked to several professional growers about the problem, which they also experience, and they have told us that the only thing you can do is to enclose the corn with an electric fence. When the raccoons get zapped, they will remember this and be very wary of ever returning. Only erect the electric fence for temporary usage (about 3 weeks), and only just before the corn ripens. The raccoons will not bother unripened corn, so only place the fence near the end of the corn growing cycle. The fence doesn’t need to be very high, eight inches above the ground being recommend.

Electric Fence Around Corn

What kind of electric fence system should you purchase? We have chosen the Parmak model Mag 12 U.O., which is a weatherproof controller and can be placed outside in the garden (as opposed to inside a barn or shed). It is powered by an external 12 vdc automotive or motorcycle battery, instead of 110vac house current, and the battery will last for a month or more, which is more than enough time for the corn to ripen and be picked. This unit has more then enough punch to give a raccoon a real jolt that he won’t soon forget as well as the ability to shock thru weeds. Remember that the fence only has to be out in the garden for several weeks, just before the corn ripens.

Can you kill a raccoon? Some states classify raccoons as a protected furbearer, but individual raccoons that are causing problems can be killed with the permission of a state wildlife agency. Other states, including Wisconsin, allow individual landowners to kill a troublesome raccoon when needed. Remember that raccoons are night feeders, so if you see one foraging during the day, it might be infected with distemper, rabies or parvovirus and be half-crazy. This raccoon can transmit these deadly viruses to your pet, or to you, so be careful if you see this.

Another tick is to wrap the section of corn, if it is not too big, using a plastic bird netting. Try draping it over the corn stalks and weight it down somewhat. The raccoons will fear getting trapped and will normally avoid it.

If you place a radio in the corn section, tune it to a late night talk show station, and turn it on at night. This tends to scare away the raccoons, as they don’t like the sound of humans.

Sprinkling the stalks with baby power is another trick. Raccoons hate the taste of baby power! Placing an old, used piece of unwashed clothing containing your scent also tends to scare off the nighttime bandits.

Wrapping each corn stalk in a plastic or paper bag and securing it with a rubber band is also said to work. Do this about a week or so before the corn is to be harvested, as doing so earlier can prevent pollination.

If you plant the corn slightly further apart than normal, and plant long-vined winter squash or pumpkins in between the corn stalks, it is said that the raccoons will not bother the corn because they don’t like to walk on the leaves of the squash. This is also a good way to use garden space.

We personally have not had much luck with a trap, as the raccoons are very wary and smart. Trapping raccoons is not recommended anyway, because when you remove one raccoon from its territory, another will simply take its place. It is better to teach the existing-area raccoons that your garden is a bad place to visit. Finally, remember that raccoons can carry some very nasty diseases, such as rabies, and if it bites you as you leave it out of the cage, well good luck.


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