Keep pests from becoming a real problem
It’s that time of year when squirrels and rabbits start to really become a nuisance (not that they weren’t all summer long). Autumn is when these pesky little rodents go into overdrive in their need to store food for the winter, which includes visits to your garden — and often into your house.
This also happens to be the time of year when we start planting spring flowering bulbs, specifically tulips. Here are my favourite ways to deter these pests from becoming a real problem.
Avoid the peppers. For years I have been trying to get homeowners to stop using home brews made with cayenne or paprika because it really causes a lot of pain to the local rodent population, including chipmunks.
As I gardener, I completely understand the anger that many of you feel from the damage that has been caused by these animals, and sometimes getting revenge on them seems like a good idea.
Pepper-based products will burn the mouths of mammals but also often get into their eyes, causing long-term harm to them. Instead of the powders or the liquids, use the red pepper flakes. These work the same way for deterring squirrels and bunnies, but they are much safer and last longer in the garden with the fall rains. When planting bulbs, add a liberal handful of chili flakes to the top of the soil.
Use coffee. Another of my favourite solutions involves my morning brew. Coffee works well for me everyday, but most rodents hate the smell of java. Start saving the used coffee grounds and work them into the soil as you plant your bulbs.
The coffee grounds are great for the plants too as they add a little acidic punch to the nutrients already there. Blueberries and hydrangea are particularly fond of a good acidic soil. Just be careful not to overdue it around your irises and honeysuckles.
Try mint. Mint is another one of those plants that if you’ve got it in your garden, you probably have lots of it at this time of year.
Rodents don’t like mint. In fact, drying mint and putting in areas where there have been a lot of mouse activity has been one of those home remedies that my grandma swears by. Sadly, it doesn’t really work according to the experts. What does work however, is when you add mint to a pot of boiling water with several cloves of garlic.
This mixture is a simple solution to spray on plants or on the soil around your bulbs to cover the scent of what the squirrels like to eat.
Here is the recipe:
1-2 bunches of spearmint or peppermint (stalks and leaves)
12 garlic heads 2 litres of water
Boil for 30 minutes
Cool and use a strainer to remove debris from the liquid Add 2 tbsp of dish detergent Spray directly in areas with rodent damage
Repeat after each rain until squirrels stop visiting that area.
Autumn is when pesky little rodents go into overdrive in their need to store food for the winter, which includes visits to your garden — and often into your house.