Garden Plot: Less roadkill means more mammalian garden pests

Doug in Adamstown writes:

Since almost everyone is under stay-at-home orders, we’re not driving as much. That means fewer road kills, which could mean that the populations of garden munching vermin is going to explode — with a lot more deer, groundhogs, rabbits, and evil squirrels this year. Do you think this will be true, and if so, what can we do to prepare/protect our gardens?

It is undeniably true, Doug — news reports across the country are noting wildlife moving closer to human habitat, and animals that are in heat and searching for mates are crossing highways with ease instead of the normal “road pizza” flattening that occurs at this time of year.

You’re right to think about protecting your garden with fencing and other deterrents.

Deer, deer, deer

Doug in Adamstown names four different bad actors, starting with deer.

The best defense against these remorseless stomachs on legs is to give them a bad experience early in the season; research shows that they may then avoid your place and eat the neighbors’ azaleas this summer.

For dedicated areas, like a vegetable garden, a motion activated sprinkler is ideal. You put batteries in the unit, aim it at the area you wish to protect, hook it up to your hose and it will lurch into action and throw cold water on the intruder. Yes, you will forget it’s there and walk right into your garden on a beautiful morning. A small price to pay for unravaged fruits!

Another tool I use personally is the Wireless Deer Fence — battery powered stakes with deer attractant inside an electrified metal cage; harmless but shocking!

Wabbits and groundhogs

Among the pests concerning Doug in Adamstown are rabbits and groundhogs.

Rabbits are easy. Unlike European hares, the rabbits in our region don’t burrow, and they can’t hop very high, so a three-foot high fence with one foot buried straight underground will keep them out.

Groundhogs are tough; they can burrow and climb with the best of them, so a more sophisticated fence is required. Six feet high, with a foot and a half buried straight down, then securely stake the next two and a half feet, but leave the top foot unstaked and bend it outward to act as a baffle. When they climb up the supported part, they’ll reach the unsupported baffle and get dropped right back down on their furry butts. Fun for the whole family!

The Darth Vader of the garden

Now it’s time for the Doctor Doom of the garden — the seemingly unstoppable Evil Squirrel.

Acrobatic, clever and fiendishly evil, these long-tailed Servants of Satan are a gardener’s worst enemy. Forget flying or super-strength, if I was able to pick one superpower to have, it would be heat vision! Fry squirrel, fry!

Ahem.

The first thing you need to do is not lure them: That means no bird feeders — the birds don’t need artificial food at this time of year and ‘feeding the birds’ will increase your population of Evil Squirrels! Talk to your neighbors about taking their feeders down — and if they are deliberately feeding squirrels, call the police!

Fighting the Fiendish Foe

Doug in Adamstown worries that Evil Squirrels will devour our 2020 Victory Gardens (Thanks for using their proper name, Doug.)

Number one: Do not put out bird feeders; they are Evil Squirrel breeding stations.

If squirrel are digging in your containers or raised beds, lay chicken wire flat on the soil surface; this keeps cats out as well.

Surround your tomatoes with real cages made of welded wire fencing and fasten more
fencing over the top with twist-ties.

Prune off any tree limbs that give the Servants of Satan access to your garden.

Position a high-powered motion activated sprinkler at ground level.

And deploy fake explosive Squirrels throughout your garden.

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