Keeping Critters Out
There are few things more frustrating to a gardener than to lavish weeks of care on your vegetable plants, bringing them to the brink of harvest—only to have them munched, trampled, or otherwise ruined by hungry wildlife. Fortunately, there are ways to fight back and protect your crops. Here are some methods for keeping deer, rabbits, and voles out of your garden.
Did you know that rabbits prefer young, tender shoots and are particularly fond of lettuce, beans, and broccoli. They like to nibble on flowers such as marigolds, pansies, and petunias. Young rabbits are curious and tend to sample many plants, even ones reputed to be rabbit-resistant. Rabbits prefer to eat at night.
Here are the most popular methods for curtailing rabbit, deer & vole activity:
- Fencing & Netting – Lay chicken wire or netting on or around your plants to keep bunnies out. For deer, fences and covers, such as plastic netting, chicken wire, or floating row covers that you place over plants so deer can’t reach them. For voles, a fence that’s buried 3 to 6 inches below the soil surface and bent outwards into an L-shape. Above ground, the fence should be from 4 to 12 inches tall.
- Habitat Removal – Remove brush piles, tall grass, low-growing shrubs, and rock piles for bunnies. Voles dislike cleared spaces. Cleared spaces as narrow as 10 inches inhibit their movements; wider areas are even better. Remove weeds, mulch, and any crop litter around the garden. Consider digging a trench, voles don’t like trenches.
- Scare them – having a cat or dog in the yard will help deter rabbits. Once bunnies realize the devices don’t present a true threat, though, they’ll ignore them. A dog that can roam the area is a good threat to deer. Motion-triggered devices that squirt water, turn on a radio, or emit an irritating high frequency sound may also work. Predator urine gives deer a fright by making them think a predator visits your garden.
- Repellents – Rabbit repellents work either by releasing a repulsive odor or by making plants taste bad. For deer, repellents that emit sulfur odors, like that found in egg products or bloodmeal, provide the best control; repellents applied to leaf surfaces are more effective than those (such as capsules or reservoirs) that release an odor intended to create a perimeter. Garlic inserted into tubes, hot sauce around the area and caster oil are some known repellants that may work for voles.
- Predators – Pets, hawks, foxes, snakes, and owls will help with bunny control. Cats are a great deterrent for vole control, as are owls, foxes, hawks, bobcats, some snakes, and coyotes.
- Plant Selection – Grow plants they dislike, or place such plants next to the ones they do like. Deer tend to dislike rhubarb, asparagus and garlic.
Bunnies tend to dislike:
- Vegetables: asparagus, leeks, onions, potatoes, rhubarb, squash, tomatoes
- Flowers: cleomes, geraniums, vincas, wax begonias
- Herbs: basil, mint, oregano, parsley, tarragon
- Trapping – Contact local authorities for more information
Talk to us about options for keeping rabbits, deer and voles out of your yards and garden. We provide repellants, fencing and netting options.
Source: Bonnie Plants