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How to control garden pests and varmints?

It was only last year, my third year with an open raised garden, that something discovered the bounty within. Racoons maybe, it seemed to be overnight. Until late last summer I didn't have to worry about anything, but I am sure they are now looking forward to this summer and making plans, and will probably be starting even earlier.

My local farmer had told me that the only thing that works for him is playing an AM radio talk station all night, it scares them all away. Works better than scarecrows or barbed wire he says.

I am ready to go to war...what works for you?

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  1. I had problems with raccoons a couple of years ago, a fishing buddy runs a pest control business, he let me use a couple of his live traps. He also advised me to leave a radio on. I baited the traps with the oil from canned tuna fish. The traps worked.

    His live traps were ~$75 each, I purchased 6 DP Coon Traps for ~$20 each. I didn't have problems with raccoons last year, but in February I saw 3 on the road. The DP traps are deployed but I haven't seen any evidence they are on my property. I did catch a couple of skunks and a weasel so far this year. I am not playing the radio now, I don't know if it worked, and it took some getting use to, "hearing voices outside at night". I tried sports talk and settled on Mexican Music. I joked with people, that I would find the raccoons sitting in front of the radio listening to Rush Limbaugh, doing fist pumps.

    With the live traps one has the option to relocate the prey, with the DP traps, the prey has to be killed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alan408

      My neighbor traps the raccoons around here and releases them, or so he says. Maybe I could pay him to do my yard too?

      Yeah the radio I'm wondering how loud it would have to be, it's pretty quiet in this neighborhood. Someone will probably investigate eventually.

    2. I scatter dry lint, swept-up dog hair, and clippings from hair cuts in mine.

      You could probably ask your barber/beautician to collect clippings for you. Human scent, etc., etc.

      11 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        OK now there's an original idea! Do you have to refresh it often?

        1. re: coll

          every few weeks -- I see that should have been "dryER lint"!!

          the hair and dryer lint will degrade pretty quickly -- I toss it into my compost bin, too, where it acts as a brown.

          Another idea I've heard that works very well, but have not been desperate enough to try....I've also heard that pouring human urine around the perimeter of the bed will keep critters away, too. Some send their husbands and boys out to wee around the edges, some collect it and carefully pour it along the edges (old milk carton or similar) Makes infinite sense, but I've never had critter problems quite that bad....

            1. re: sunshine842

              Most males are for rent, and will pee for beer. It helps if you 'pay' them first...:)

              1. re: Veggo

                I know...I just haven't had that severe a problem yet....

                1. re: sunshine842

                  For most men it is a pleasure, not a problem, and we like to be helpful. The world is our urinal....:)

                  1. re: Veggo

                    I have some neighbors, now that you mention it.....a themed party?

                      1. re: Motosport

                        OK drawing up some creative invitations right now.

              2. re: sunshine842

                Oh, goodness, we've been doing that for over 20 years! First to keep the raccoons out of the corn, now to keep the bears out of the house.

                1. re: c oliver

                  BTW, I learned this from Organic Gardening magazine.

          1. I trap the raccoons and groundhogs and release them near coll's home.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Motosport

              Oh so that explains it! I should have known ;-).

              1. re: coll

                I keep them in the cage for a couple of days so they're really hungry when they get to your garden.

            2. The AM radio works; it doesn't have to be loud.

              Hair and dryer lint will work if the birds don't gather it to incorporate into nests. Dog hair is especially effective.

              If you can buy it in large containers for not too much money (Big lots, etc), crushed red pepper flakes, liberally, liberally sprinkled works well.

              I have heard, anecdotally, that urine perimeters work. So far it hasn't come to that at my house. :-)

              Finally, if you have "prickly" perimeters, that helps....zucchini on the outside edges, etc.

              12 Replies
              1. re: pinehurst

                I have a groundhog burrow a few feet from my veggie garden. I blocked it with stones and small logs to no avail. In desperation I even peed down the hole!! I felt a bit like Bill Murray in Caddyshack. Finally I just erected a substantial wire mesh fence around the garden which is fairly small. Success!!

                1. re: Motosport

                  Moto, did you sink the fence into the ground at all? :-) Caddyshack :-)

                  1. re: pinehurst

                    Sort of. I sunk some RR ties and attached the fence to them. Not to say the varmints could not burrow under but in two years it's been ok.

                    1. re: Motosport

                      I am trying to avoid manual labor; but if it comes down to it, I'll figure it out somehow.

                      Many of my neighbors also have vegetable gardens, so all I have to do is make it a little less accessible than theirs I figure.

                      1. re: coll

                        Or just plant daffodils. Nothing eats daffodils. You then trade the dafs for the neighbor's veggies.

                        1. re: Motosport

                          I really have to do some serious research, aren't marigolds the answer to everything bad? since my tomato seeds just popped above the soil this morning, I should have a few good weeks left.

                          1. re: coll

                            Some critter lopped off every single marigold head during the night, right after I had planted 'em. I think it was snails who had a vendetta 'cause of my other snail baits. All the stalks and leaves were intact, just off with their heads (the marigolds, not the snails).

                            1. re: pine time

                              That kills that idea! The other day, something ate all the crocus stems that hadn't even bloomed yet. Squirrels? The neighborhood cat? Wish I could afford security cameras, it'd be more interesting than watching TV!

                                1. re: Alan408

                                  OMG another thing to worry about. We had an infestation in our mailbox last year.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    Gardening is not for the faint of heart, is it? Vicious out there!

                                    1. re: pine time

                                      Over the winter, I always forget about the existence of bugs. I have to get my tick outfit out pretty soon though.

                2. You can buy relatively inexpensive electric fencing--look for it in the pet department, not in the farm store. 'Training' is important for electric fences--depending on what you are trying to keep out, hang bacon on it, smear it with peanut butter (before you turn it on!) or drape some apple slices over it. One sniff or bite and beasties will hightail it out of town.

                  And it doesn't permanently injure them, just scares and smarts a little.

                  For more money, you can buy electrified poultry wire.