It's been a few years since writing about raccoons, deer, bear, moles, rabbits and squirrels in our veggie garden but nonetheless they are still with us! Here is a little more information on how we co-exist with these critters without pulling out our hair.
Deer - ever present :
When we first moved into our current home the very first time we saw a deer harvesting the tulip flowers and everything else in the garden, it was definitely time for a fence. This has been very successful in the back yard for many years. We also let the hedges at the back grow a few feet higher as deer are great jumpers. Be warned that even if you have not seen deer nearby, one morning you may find your hostas have disappeared from the pot and many other plants as well. Here's more information on how to keep deer out of the veggie garden.
Raccoons - night party animals
These critters are our most constant animal companions in the vegetable garden, except for the birds. Over the years, we have managed to co-exist as they prefer to move onto the neighbours who may have bird feeders or an extra highly perfumed garbage. They must have found some good sources of food as in all the years we have never had them cause any damage, including composts, although they travel through our yard often. Here are two of @CaramelParsley's all time top tweets on this subject:
Black Bear in Spring & Fall
Black bear, including a sow with triplets, travel through this area each year as it is heavily treed behind our home. Plus we have several large 100 year old Western cedars where they like to hunker down over night. We have had a couple of concerns with them over the years. The first was a bear taking a stroll through the veggie garden looking for food and walked past ripening tomatoes, greens but did not destroy anything. Damage was mostly from his size and movement through the garden like breaking gates. The second incident last Fall was entirely my own fault as I put a rotting pumpkin in one of the compost bins. The large plastic bin was completely destroyed so will have to be more cautious this Spring and Fall as they have excellent memories.
Squirrels, Moles & Rabbits ...
We have almost daily interaction with at least one of these three animals although with rabbits its mostly in the early Spring. The squirrels don't normally bother the garden, unless they take a nibble at a ripe squash, although that could be another rodent. The most interesting damage the grey squirrels have done recently was to enjoy eating the blueberry blossoms in the veggie garden. Plus they raid the robin nests for eggs which I keep reassuring myself that's what they do. Sort of like cats eat wild birds ...
Moles can be a huge problem as they love to burrow and tunnel under the soft soil especially in the vegetable garden. My best solution to help control them is to put a little dry chicken "poo" in the tunnels when found. This seems to work. Here are some ideas about controlling moles in your garden
Rabbits are probably one of the biggest and potentially damaging concerns. They can dig under fences or squeeze through the smallest holes. They too, like the deer, can do a lot of damage, like eat a crop of strawberries in a very short time.
This is a lot of information about our experiences gardening with wild critters. I am not into "euthanizing" the animals written about here and always looking for new solutions to co-exist. Am sure you have similar or other interesting experiences.
Whether in your own backyard or trekking through the bush it is always good to be Bear Aware We have had more than our share of encounters with them, especially in Northern BC. Be prepared and be safe.
Links & References :
- "Wascally Wabbits? Tips for keeping bunnies out of the garden" - Kansas State University
- ** General Information on "Tree Squirrels" from PennState Extension
- Plants Not Favoured by Deer
- CAP article on The Challenge of Gardening with Bears
** Last Fall we watched two grey squirrels selectively pick unripe second crop figs from our tree. Our back lawn is not of "golf club greens" status so we were not too concerned when they buried the figs in the lawn. When they started burying them in the raised bed vegetable gardens we shooed them away and picked the rest of the figs for recycling.
Part of the humour of this story is that the next evening around 2.00 a.m. a family of three raccoons spent some time in the lawn digging the figs up and eating them! Happy Gardening ...