March “In The Grow”

Q. I just read your column addressing a question on how to keep raccoons out of sweet corn. Have you ever tried a radio? We run a long extension cord to the garden (we tried batteries, but that was too expensive), put the radio inside a garbage bag to protect it from the weather, tune in to a talk show and turn it up very loud. (We tried a music station, but that didn’t bother the raccoons at all; I guess it was like dinner theater to them.) As an added bonus, it also helps keep out the crows. -Michele Johnson, Lebanon, Ind.

A. Someone once drew a cartoon of a gopher running from a garden where the radio was tuned to a certain popular conservative talk show! Visual, scent or sound distractions can all be effective for a period of time. In the long run, however, the animal may discover that the distraction poses no threat and return to eating in the garden. Or, it could move on to calmer pastures. Keep reading for another idea!

Q. I read the question on how to rid the garden of raccoons. Last year, we finally tried something that worked. We took Christmas lights and strung them up in the sweet corn, letting the lights twinkle. It worked, and we had sweet corn until September! We also purchased those plastic frogs that make a sound when something walks in front of them, but they didn’t seem to work. -Diana L. Streepy, Monroe City, Ind.

A. Thanks for the suggestions! Now that we have the raccoons at bay, the deer are knocking at our garden gate. Read on.

Q: I have approximately five and one-half acres in New Richmond (Hickory in the movie “Hoosiers”), where our home is located. I like to have a small garden on my pasture plot, about 100 feet from our house. Deer come into my garden and do a lot of damage. I read an article in a Texas newspaper recently that listed plants, etc. that deer don’t like and will keep deer away when planted in and around the garden. What plants would do the same in Indiana? -William M. Erickson, New Richmond, Ind.

A. Deer don’t like to eat Japanese barberry, boxwood, Oregon grape holly, red chokeberry, Russian sage, butterfly bush and redbud. Be forewarned, however, that if they run out of more palatable plants, NO plant is deer resistant.

Several repellents are available that deter deer with their scent, or you can make your own at home with two eggs, one cup of nonfat milk, one cup of water and two teaspoons of a spreader-sticker. Whirl it up in your blender, and spray it on your plants. The scent of rotten eggs will keep deer away (and friends and family probably) but must be reapplied after rain. Again, if the deer have nothing else to eat, they’ll eat food that smells like rotten eggs.

Sound scares deer for a while, but they eventually become accustomed to many noises. The sound of horns and shotgun shells are effective for a long time (but may irritate the neighbors). Fencing is an option, but the jury is out on how much fence is necessary. A six- or eight-foot fence usually is recommended, but some gardeners report deer jumping over 10-foot fences.

According to an article in the “American Nurseryman,” the U.S. deer population has grown from 300,000 in 1930 to more than 25 million today. This is going to continue to be a gardening challenge for all of us. Is anyone ready to reintroduce the wolf?


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