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No Scarecrows for Me

I use fences, smells and my dog

Squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs and deer are a common problem in home vegetable gardens. I surround my garden with a four-foot-high four-inch-by-two-inch turkey fence supported by steel fence posts at 10-foot intervals. I also attach an 18-inch-wide pullet fence at the bottom with hog-nose rings. Groundhogs will not climb the turkey fence with the bottom pullet fence. They try but fall backwards because the pullet fence is loosely attached. The bottom edge is buried two to three inches deep to discourage the ground hogs from digging under. I also allow the grass to grow up to the edge of the fence. Ground hogs do not like to dig through turf.
    The fence also keeps the rabbits and deer from entering the garden. My dog keeps the squirrels out, chasing and sometimes catching a few. The dog also does a good job of keeping the deer away.

Flowering Plants

   The purpose of flowers is to produce seeds. When flowering plants start seeds, the energy from photosynthesis goes into seed production and not into flowers. Unless you cut back the plant to remove those seedpods, the plant will cease flowering.
   When you notice your plants are not flowering as profusely, it’s time to cut the flowering stems and remove the seed pods. By removing the seedpods, you stimulate the plants back into flowering.

    Around the flower garden, I sprinkle an inch-wide band of Repel-All, which contains powdered garlic, dried blood, dried hot pepper and putrid egg. It has a noticeable odor for the first couple of days. To be effective, it must be re-applied at three- to four-week intervals depending on the frequency of rain or irrigation. Liquid Fence — which includes powdered garlic, ground hot peppers and putrid egg — is not as effective as Repel-All.
    For controlling deer, I have been successful in using bars of soap suspended four to five inches above ground at 20-foot intervals. I attach the soap with aluminum or copper wire so it does not touch the bark of living trees or shrubs. The fat in the soap will kill the tissue beneath the bark. The bars and brand of soap should be changed at three- to four-week intervals. Deer will become accustomed to an odor.
    I have tried nylon bags of dog hair with limited success. A neighbor hangs loosely tied aluminum pie tins on string around the garden to repel deer but says it works only some of the time.
    If you don’t mind the odor, containers of mothballs are also effective repellents of deer, dogs and cats. Small frozen orange juice cans, with nail holes at both ends, make an ideal container that will hold a dozen or so mothballs and keep them dry. A dozen mothballs in a can will last one growing season.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.