The Q&A Archives: Keeping Animals at Bay

Question: I am planning a very large garden this year.3 kinds of tomatoes, 2 kinds of cukes, 3 kinds of corn, green beans, snow peas, potatoes, beets, lettuce, 2 kinds of watermelon, 2 kinds of rasberries, 3 kinds of strawberries (over 50 plants), sweet and jalopeno peppers.

I live on a busy mile road, but I have noticed a lot of wild life in my area, including but not limited to....
chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, moles, groundhogs, possums,skunks, cats, bats, and mice, and birds, too many birds. I am afraid these animals will enjoy more of my garden then I can.

I researched several options including putting up a fenced in enclosed area, 6 feet tall and basically closing off my garden to anything with wings or more then two feet. But it figures out to a lot of money, I have over 600 sq of garden to protect. None of my neighbors are doing much to protect their gardens, so I am thinking that maybe the animals are not such a problem. I just moved there last year, and haven't had any problems yet.

I want to be able to move around a lot in my garden, and go in to weed at a moments notice. I work two jobs and go to school at night, so when I have a spare moment, I am always in my garden. The idea of a fence protecting the garden is a little restrictive, but I don't know what my other options are. I have heard of putting pie tins up to scare away birds and animals, and have heard of putting mesh between bricks around the perimeter.. because cats, coons and skunks don't like to walk on it.

I have also heard of using cayenne pepper .. They make it in an already mixed spray now too. My question with that is does it make the fruit/veggies taste like cayenne pepper too?

DO you know if any of these ideas work?
Do you have any other ideas for keeping them at bay?

Answer: Unfortunately, in my experience the most reliably effective method of protecting the garden is in fact to fence it off. (I have a number of gates into my garden so it is easy to dash in and out of it.) All of the methods you mentioned have been used with some success by gardeners, and there are many more "folk remedies" for animal control, but to be honest sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Your satisfaction with these methods will depend on how many critters there are, what types they are, how hungry they are, and how much tolerance you have for damage to your plants. It will also depend on how much time you have to apply and reapply the various repellents and so on. With a little experience and experimentation you will find the methods that work best for you.

With regard to the pepper sprays, if you are careful to wash the veggies and fruits (and melon rinds, for example, before cutting them open) there shouldn't be any pepper taste. Be careful, though, not to get any in your eyes accidently.

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