All gardeners, no matter where we live or what we grow, have a universal problem. There is some living creature that attacks or eats our favorite plant.
You know what I mean…that peach colored rose with its early tender bloom; that row of lettuce you were just ready to harvest for your lunch salad; or how about the rhododendron bush that is at a cockeyed angle and in horror you realize when touching it, that the whole root system has been gnawed away. Then there is the lovely cherry tree, right before it blooms that has webbing and caterpillars massed between 2 branches.
According to the Gardeners Supply Company out of Vermont their top 10 varmints include in order of damage:
- Jap beetles
Are you gnashing your teeth and growling yet?
It is important to remember that any products you use stand little chance of being effective if you have droves of any one thing (10 deer, 6 rabbits, 100 caterpillar webs), and if you don’t keep at it. The numbers just work against you. The goal should be to interrupt or make unpleasant their feeding habits and steer them somewhere else for lunch (hopefully not your neighbor’s azaleas).
Here’s what we have tried or seen for deer and rabbits. To get a full run down of their suggestions and products go to gardeners.com/10 least wanted. It’s a fun spot on the web.
Deer and Rabbits
- We found that whittled pieces of Irish spring soap around each plant deter deer for a while until it rains and reduces the size of the soap and scent.
- We have also used Scram a granular product (which is $60.00 a bucket full). You spread that around the perimeter about 2 feet away from any plant you don’t want eaten. The two feet perimeter is for the reaching factor a deer has with its long neck.
- We tried battery operated zappers near tasty treats, but the batteries kept needing to be checked and replaced.
- (Deer only)Deer netting is pretty good. It virtually disappears if you are more that 5 feet away. The idea is that when the deer feed they get a mouthful of nylon. With their favorite “candy” of annuals in a pot, I have seen them pull away the netting and clips that are used to stake them down.
- (Deer and Rabbits)We have had success with sprays around the perimeter of the garden beds. The problem there is that each time it rains you have to reapply the spray. If you miss an application of just a day or two, it could be an overnight blitz.
- ( Deer only) I have seen, but not done human hair. You take a handful of hair from your brush or a beauty salon and put it in a mesh bag. The person I saw using it said it worked, but I had a hard time with the look of it- disembodied hair hanging as bait- I just couldn’t handle it .
- (Rabbits only)- We have tried steel traps with vegetables in them so that they are caught and relocated to the country …not killed. After a 3 week attempt in west end Richmond off Cary Street, we caught 3 juvenile very upset possums. Never have caught a rabbit. (Bugs bunny was really that smart after all!)
- Our most recent attempt is garlic clips! They are made with concentrated garlic oil. They come 25 to a pack for 20 bucks from Gardeners Supply. We took them out of the bag and were knocked back by the smell. (If vampires hate them we figure it might work for deer and rabbits.) Some of my clients are in such dire need of a repellent, that we have already used them. As soon as it stops snowing, I am going to buy a full pot of pansies, put a garlic clip in it and leave it out as a sacrificial plant in the middle of my meadow. That should be the test! I’ll let you know how it goes next month.