Home Remedies: Keep those pesky rabbits and squirrels out of your garden

An appetizer before lunch

October: You’ve done your research, picked out just the right varieties  with the proper heights and colors and now you’re heading home with 350 tulip bulbs, a big sack of bone meal, a couple of bales of peat moss and a brand new bulb planter.  You’ve already taken a whole day to till up the garden.   Now it’s time to mix in just the right amount of bone meal  and peat moss and plant the bulbs with your awesome new bulb planter.

April: The the moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived. All that hard work is about to pay off. Your new bulbs are just starting to send up new sprouts. A day later you look out of the window to see how they are doing, and a rabbit is munching on the last bite of the last leaf of the last tulip!

There is nothing more disheartening than seeing your young newly planted flower bulbs (or flowers or garden vegetables) being gnawed and chewed to bits by the fury neighborhood felons.  Unfortunately, there is no “magic bullet” that will stop these hoodlums from ever again munching on one of your plants. Live traps can help if the pest population isn’t too high. Fencing will work, but doggone it anyway, you didn’t plant those bulbs to hide behind some ugly chicken wire fence.

Marigold Muncher

Commercial repellents are available, but they can get awfully spendy if you have a large area to control. But if you are a do-it-yourselfer and want to save some money, try making your own “home brew”. There are several recipes, and all of the ingredients are readily available at your local grocery store.

The  most common ingredient  in all of them is cayenne pepper (on commercial products it may be listed as capsaicin).  Many recipes call for hot spices,  jalapeno peppers, Tabasco sauce, even onions. Wear gloves when preparing any recipe that contains these ingredients, and do not touch your face.

Control of pests needs to be part of a plan that you stay on top of all season. You will need to monitor the population and reapply as needed. If you apply it and see a couple of rabbits in your garden a week or two later, reapply it. Make a stronger batch if you need to. Always re-apply after it rains.

Here’s a recipe I found on the Internet:

Things you’ll need:

  • Sauce pan (1 ½ to 2 qt.), Cutting Board,  Knife,  Onion,  2 Fresh jalapeno peppers,  1 tbsp. paprika,  1 tbsp. cayenne pepper,  Mixing bowl,  Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer,  Spray bottle,  Funnel (optional)
  • 1  Put the saucepan on the stove top and fill it ½ to ¾ full with water. Turn on the burner to start heating it.
  • 2  Peel and chop the onion into very small pieces on the cutting board,  while the water is heating. Cut up the two fresh jalapeno peppers into small pieces. Put the chopped onion and chopped jalapeno peppers into the heating pot of water.
  • 3  Add 1 tbps. of paprika and 1 tbps. of Cayenne pepper into the water with the chopped onions and chopped jalapeno peppers.
  • 4  Stir the mixture up . Then let the water reach boiling point. Reduce heat to simmer and let the mixture  simmer for 15 to 25 minutes.   Then turn off the burner and let the mixture cool.
  • 5  Get the bowl and cheesecloth.  Once the water, onions, peppers and spices have cooled, pour the mixture through the cheesecloth into the bowl. Now you will have a colored liquid with little or no residue from the produce and spices in it.
  • 6  Pour the strained liquid into the spray bottle either with a funnel or by hand.
  • 7  Spray the homemade squirrel repellent all over the plant. As an added deterrent you can sprinkle some of the Cayenne pepper and paprika  around the base of the plant. You should spray the plants about once a week, especially in rainy weather.

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