How to Keep Critters Out of Your Garden Safely and Naturally

It's not just those pesky snails and adorable deer that threaten all your hard work in the garden. Lots of other animals want to get in on the feast too. Here are easy, and tried and true ways to keep them from harvesting all your veggies before you do.

MICE, MOLES and VOLES

Moles eat mainly earthworms and grubs. Voles eat plants, especially perennial roots, seeds and bulbs. Here are some ideas to convince them to go eat elsewhere.

Boards: Mice and moles love melons. Place a board under the fruit to deter moles from digging directly underneath your fruit.

• Urine: Human urine poured into a mole hole will encourage them to move elsewhere.

Trench: Dig a trench around either your garden or around individual plants that gophers and moles are targeting. In the trench, bury mesh metal wire fencing or metal window screen at least 18" inches deep, and fill the trench in again. Make sure the mesh is small enough that the moles can't get through it. When the gophers and moles are digging, they won't be able to get to your plants or the surrounding area because they will run into the fencing and not be able to chew or dig through.

Castor bean plants: These are poisonous to gophers and moles. If you plant these in your yard or garden, rodents should no longer be a problem. However, castor bean plants are poisonous so be careful with children and pets. You can also try putting castor oil down the mole hole.

High frequency emitting device: The noises are undetectable to the human ear, and also do not seem to bother household pets. Pests do not like the sound and move elsewhere.

• Put used kitty litter down the hole

• Buy lava rocks and soak them in an onion and garlic solution.

SQUIRRELS

Petroleum jelly: Place bird feeders away from the garden and at least 6 feet off the ground. If the bird feeder is on top of a pole, place a baffle on the pole so that it cannot be climbed, or lubricate the pole with petroleum jelly to keep the squirrel (or chipmunk) from getting a good foothold.

• Plastic pipe: Place plastic pipe over the wire of your suspended bird feeder, so squirrels cannot get a good footing.

Wire mesh: Protect newly planted bulbs with one inch mesh poultry wire over the plantings. Cover them with mulch. The plants will grow through the mesh, but squirrels will be prevented from digging.

Motion detection sprinklers: Sudden bursts of water will frighten squirrels (and other critters), at least temporarily.

RABBITS

White vinegar: Same as deer, raccoons, dogs and cats -- rabbits don't like the scent of vinegar either. Rags soaked in white vinegar once a week should keep them away.

Wire mesh: Surround your garden with 1/2" inch wire mesh. Fence should be 2 to 3 feet high above ground and at least 1 foot deep to stop rabbits from burrowing beneath the fencing. Bend the top 6" inches of mesh outward to stop rabbits from getting over the top of the fence.

Kitty litter: Spread used kitty litter along the edge of the garden once a week to scare rabbits away.

• Human hair: Sprinkle human hair clippings from your local beauty shop around the plants. It's best if you can get hair that hasn't been washed.

CROWS

Soaker hose: Place several soaker hoses around in the garden, and curve them so they look like snakes.

Owl decoys: Place an owl decoy near the site where crows flock, and leave it there for a day or two. Some crows do get used to the immobile owl figure, and recognize that it is not a real owl after some time, so remove it for several days and replace in a different location.

Clean up: Keep your surroundings clean. Crows sometimes flock to areas that aren't clean... areas where there are poor garbage disposal practices, and where there's plenty of food for them.

Shiny things: Hang shiny things from nearby trees, stakes, or from the plants themselves. Try CDs, aluminum foil or reflective streamers.

Happy Gardening!

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