Will Animals such as Squirrels and Rabbits Eat My Garden?

by Melissa
(Council Bluffs, IA)

Hello, It's my first time planting a garden and I have a nice big back yard I intend to utilize with raised garden beds.

One of the best spots for sunshine is further out back along our fence; however there are squirrels and rabbits hopping around most of the day.

We live in a community but are surrounded by rural areas so we get a lot of those animals around.

Is this something I need to worry about and do you have any recommendations?

I am considering another location near the property, but I still need to check how many hours of direct sun it gets during the day.

Thanks. Your site is great!

-Melissa



ANSWER:



Hi Melissa,
I'm very glad that you like my site!

You will likely not have any problem with squirrels damaging your garden.

But...

Unfortunately, the story of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor's garden is based on fact; rabbits simply love to eat tender growing garden vegetables even to the point of risking being made into a rabbit pie!

There are several ways to deal with the problem of keeping rabbits out of your garden.

You can use chicken wire to erect a fence around your entire raised bed garden, or you can make individual cages called "cloches" to cover smaller areas or protect individual plants.

However, rabbits will dig under a fence if it is not set deep enough in the ground--usually 6-8 inches underground is necessary.

Some gardeners use blood meal, chili powder, liquid fence, or other repellents to keep the rabbits away from their garden plants.

These will have to be applied more than once during the vegetable growing season.

You might want to check with your local garden center to see which rabbit repellents work best in your area.

You may end up using a combination of fencing materials, and repellents to keep your garden safe.

Best of luck!




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Little Teeny Bugs on Lettuce

by Angie
(Florida)

I have 5 lettuce plants that are doing wonderfully. This is my first attempt at gardening. I just went out to check them and noticed teeny little black bugs all between the leaves.

Is there something that is not chemical based that I can spray on them? I read something about vinegar mixture somewhere, but can't remember where. Thanks.


ANSWER:

It sounds like your lettuce may have been invaded by flea beetles.

Try planting a row of radish as bait, 4-6 feet away from your lettuce. The flea beetles love radish leaves even more than they love lettuce. Hopefully they will move off your lettuce, and eat the radish leaves instead. Radish seeds sprout and grow leaves in just a few days, so it won't take long for you to see if this will help.

To be sure that you are dealing with flea beetles, take a couple of them with you to show someone that has experience with gardening and who may have also encountered this pest.

You may have to resort to using Rotenone on your lettuce plants. It is supposed to break down in 3 days, so as long as you wait more than three days before eating your lettuce, it should be fine. But follow the directions on the container.

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Red Spots on My Lettuce

by Nicole
(MA)

I have some lettuce plants that I started early in a makeshift greenhouse. They are making good heads now, but at one point leaves got rusty looking spots. Newer leaves don't seem to have as much of this mottling.

Plants seem healthy and are growing well. Is this a plant "disease", and if a plant gets a disease is it still edible if it survives? Thank you!


ANSWER:

Many varieties of lettuce will form red spots naturally. Do you know which variety of lettuce seeds you planted? Ruby Red and Red Sails lettuce both will form red spots on their leaves naturally as the plants develop.

In general, it is safe to eat plants even when there is some damage from a pest or disease. As long as you wash it first, and it tastes good, it should be fine to eat!


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How to Keep Deer Out of My Vegetable Garden?

Are there flowers or something I can plant in my garden to keep the deer out?


ANSWER:


I don't know of any flowers that will keep deer out. The only natural remedy that I have heard that works is human urine.

One of my friend's husband "marks" the perimeter of their vegetable garden with urine. They don't have any kind of fence, and there are lots of deer living all around their rural property.

This method works really well for them. But it is problematic for people living in town, or in a city.

A very tall fence also works well.

Does anyone have any other proven methods of keeping deer away from the vegetable garden?

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Holes in our Potatoes

by Michael White
(Valdosta, Ga.)

Last year we had some type of soil bug get into our potatoes. This bug would only enter about 1/4 inch, then exit the crop, leaving a small hole behind in the potatoes. What can this be, and how can we treat it?


ANSWER:

I would take one or two of the potatoes to your county extension agent, or to a local garden center and see if someone can visually identify the pest for you.

Hopefully they can also tell you how to treat for this kind of pest.

I would hate to take a guess at it without seeing the problem.

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Pests in my Veggie garden!

by Jerry
(Saraland, Alabama. USA)

Some outdoor menace is eating my corn seedlings and now they have turned to my freshly planted row of cucumber seeds!
PLEASE HELP!


ANSWER:

Do you have any clues as to whether this pest is an insect, or an animal such as a squirrel, or a rabbit?

Are there any little tracks or footprints around your plants? If it is an animal pest, you can sprinkle hot pepper or other repellents around your plants as a deterrent.

Do you see any worms or flying insects on or around your plants? If your corn and cucumbers are being eaten by insects, there are insecticides that can help.

If I have a bit more information, I can perhaps give you some more specific suggestions.

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Gopher-Proofing a Raised Bed Garden

by Betzi
(Cedar Crest, NM)

I've laid down a double layer of chicken wire in the bottom of my raised bed, and then put the soil back in, then planted late season veggies.

I also bought gopher repellent (84% dried blood + chili powder) & plan to use it this coming weekend. Do you have any further advice?


ANSWER:

Just adding the layers of chicken wire in the bottom of your raised beds should be enough to prevent gophers from invading your garden. I'm pretty sure that they won't attack your garden from above. They live in a system of tunnels, and wouldn't have enough building-room inside a raised bed garden.

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Garden Seeds Being Eaten!

by Jim
(S.E. Arizona)

I just planted cantaloupe and corn seeds. Something has dug up every corn seed I planted.

There is a little hole where each seed was. Same with most of the cantaloupe seeds.

I have something that burrows under my garden fence and enters the garden.


ANSWER:

Try planting several seeds in each hole. That way hopefully the critter won't find all of them.

You could also try leaving some "goodies" such as sunflower seeds for this hungry creature on the other side of your fence until after your seeds have sprouted and started to grow.

(Other than that, you might have to sleep in the garden with a BB gun for a few weeks!)

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Eggplant Disease Problem

by Lenore DeLitizia
(Raleigh, NC)

I accessed your site a couple of weeks ago because my eggplants were showing signs of something eating away at the leaves.

I made the mixture you gave to spray them with. I checked every day to see if the problem still existed...and it did.

I don't know if I can revive the plants or not. They don't look dead, and they continue to get new leaves. What can I do?


ANSWER:

The best way to find out what is wrong with your eggplants is to take an affected leaf or two to your local garden center and ask a specialist to help you.

If you don't have a garden center locally, show the leaves to a local county extension agent if possible.

Or you can ask other experienced gardeners in your area.

Many pests and plant diseases are specific to an area or location. I hope you can find someone to help you!

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Pests in Vegetable Garden

by Bev
(Southern California)

What pests are eating holes in the leaves of my young plants?


ANSWER:

Hi Bev,

You will need to do a bit of detective work to find the answer to your question.

It could be insects, or slugs. The best way to get help is to call your local garden center, and give them as much information as possible. They should know which pests are likely to be the problem.

Are there any plants that aren't being eaten? Is there any sign of webs, eggs, or bugs on the plant foliage?

Are there little snail/slug trails on the dirt in your garden?

These are the kind of questions that you will need to answer in order to find out what can be done to fix the problem in your garden.

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Why is a robin digging in my flower pots?

by Tammy
(Morgantown, WV)

I have planters on my front porch railings.

There is a robin that is getting in them and throwing my potting soil all over the place.

Do you know why he is doing that and how to stop him?


ANSWER:

Hi Tammy,

Those pesky robins! He is probably looking for bugs and worms, as that's what robins like to eat.

My grandson recommends that you install a bird feeder nearby to lure him away from your garden. But I don't know it that would help, as robins seem to prefer bugs and worms rather than seeds.

Having a cat on patrol would also help. (But I can't wholeheartedly recommend this idea.)

You could also try scaring him away with something that will flutter or make noise. But birds tend to adapt quickly to scare tactics, and then ignore them. We learned this in our blueberry patch!

If anyone reading this has experience with solving this problem, please send us a comment!

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Starting Vegetable Seeds, and White Flies in My Garden

by Shannon Crocker
(Picayune, Ms)

Just Starting

Just Starting

This is my first time doing a garden on my own. I remember helping my grandparents when I was young, but that was a long time ago.

I planted mostly seeds (carrots, lettuce, spinach, yellow squash, corn, onions, and bush beans) in a 12x12 garden.

I think I planted them deeper than the recommendation on the packets and they have not started to break through yet. Can this hurt them or just take longer to grow?

Also, when I water the garden there are a lot of white flies that show. Could they cause harm to my transplanted vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchini?

Thank you very much,
Shannon


ANSWER:

Hi Shannon,

Regarding the seed depth:

It depends on how much too deep you planted your garden seeds. If it was just a half-inch or an inch, you might be fine. Seed depth will affect the germination rate.

How quickly and successfully your garden seeds germinate depends on air and soil temperatures, moisture conditions, as well as planting depth.

So if they were planted just a little too deep, they should be ok assuming the moisture and temperature were also within an acceptable range.

I would give them twice as long as the germination range provided on the seed packets before re-planting if needed.


Regarding the white flies:

The white flies can be a problem as they will suck the juice out of some of your garden plant leaves. They are somewhat like aphids in this regard. They do like tomatoes plants.

There are sticky traps that you can put in your garden to attract the white flies away from your vegetable plants.

There are also some sprays that should help control the white flies. I would ask at your local garden center which spray has had best results in your area. White flies have adapted to some insecticides, making the insecticides less effective against the flies.

Best of luck, and thank you so much for sending the picture. I hope you can send another after your garden gets established.

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Squirrels in My Garden

How do you deal with squirrels in the vegetable garden?


ANSWER:

Fortunately, we have hazelnut orchards and lots of pine trees nearby. The squirrels spend all of their time collecting nuts and seeds from these trees, and don't pay any attention at all to our garden.

Are the squirrels actually eating your vegetables? Or are they just living in the area of your garden?

Some gardeners use chicken-wire cages over their garden to keep out the rabbits. This might work for squirrels also, if they are raiding your garden.

Anyone reading this who has experience with squirrels in the garden, please give us some advise!

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Weeds in My Garden

by Janet
(Pennsville, NJ - USA)

What is the best way to keep your vegetable garden weedless? I love to garden but I am holding down three jobs! HELP!



ANSWER:

There are a couple of ways that you can minimize weeds in your vegetable garden.

If you have an in-ground garden, add a 3 inch layer of mulch around all of your vegetables. This will really help suppress weeds.

Also, some gardeners put a 3 foot strip of plastic down each row in the garden, and plant their vegetables in holes cut in the plastic. This also keeps out the weeds. The plastic should be covered with a layer of mulch, or it can get too hot and burn your plants on sunny days.

Building a raised bed and filling it with a good garden soil mixture will also make weeding (what little occurs) a much easier task. But you will have to build the raised bed first!


Weed prevention is worth some up-front effort, as it can take a lot of time and energy to deal with a vegetable garden full of weeds.

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Climbing Carnations?

by Wanda
(Joplin, Mo.)

I planted carnations this year, but they seem to do like morning glories and wrap around the railing of my porch. Are these carnations or do you think they are morning glories?


ANSWER:

It sounds like those pesky morning glories have crowded out your carnations. I don't know of a variety of carnation that will climb a porch railing. They can "creep", but I don't think they can climb.

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