The Q&A Archives: Deterring Raccoons

Question: I am in the process of planning a garden in the community garden area of the subdivision I live in here on Hilton Head. I have been advised by the experienced gardeners here that it is useless to plant corn here because the raccoons will get it just as it gets ripe. I do not want to go to the extreme of fencing the corn and am wondering if there is some type of home brew spray (such as tobacco juice and cayenne pepper) which may deter the raccoons? I also have a question about tomatoes. The gardeners here take one gallon plastic planters (recycled) and cut the bottoms out, turn them upside down and fill about half way with potting soil and plant their tomatoes in them. They are placed in the garden in slightly raised rows. They say there is somefungus in the soil and the tomatoes will die about mid season if planted directly in the soil. I've never heard of such a thing and I'm wondering if there may be some fungucide which would work so that the tomatoes could be planted directly in the ground? Wally Smith Hilton Head Island, SC

Answer: Good for you --- starting a community garden is a great thing to do! I'd afraid your more experienced gardening friends are right. Raccoons will devastate corn. You can try lots of home remedies such as playing a radio all night in the corn patch, taping the ears to the stalks, spraying hot pepper mix on the ears and putting bags of human hair in the corn patch. All may work for awhile, but eventually the raccoons figure them out and are in the patch! The best bet is a good dog or a electric fence.They can climb regular fences easily. Put it out now long before the corn is ready to harvest so they don't get used to running in your garden. The "fungus" your friends speak of in the tomato patch is probably a wilt of some type. You can try wilt resistant tomato varieties such as 'Celebrity', but if the plastic bucket method has worked in the past, I'd say go for it! Once wilt is in the soil is can take years on not planting tomato family crops to get rid of it.

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