Miss Floribunda - September 2008

Dear Miss Floribunda,

Our vegetable garden has done well, but we're harvesting very little. Rabbits, squirrels and who knows what other creatures seem to be helping themselves to just about everything. We don't even have pears on our tree--they are eaten green. Of course shooting the little beasts is out of the question, but we're desperate. Could we catch them in hav-a-hart traps and take them to a pooch park somewhere to give the dogs something to chase? Really, the situation is completely out of hand. This morning we saw a brazen squirrel run by in broad daylight, a ripe red tomato in his mouth.

The McGregors of Gallatin Street

Dear McGregors,

You are among the many victims of the Magruder Park Gang led by Bugsy Springer, Pogo the Poacher, Bunnyface Niblet, Quickcaw McCrow--not to mention their masked master,  Al "Lightfingers" Racoone.  But be advised that both city and county ordinances forbid trapping these miscreants and taking them elsewhere.  There are few unpopulated areas
to take them to and there are no reform schools for them.

I've spoken with various gardeners about ways to save our harvests. Mr. and Mrs. Minnowhaven put out "protection" veggies on their back steps for the gang to take, and this seems to keep their garden safe. My neighbor Pattypanelope claims that she grows so much that there is enough for everyone, including her family. I have found that my fearless dog, Barcus O'Droole, keeps both diurnal and nocturnal thieves at bay.

Others report success growing garlic and onions among the vegetables. Hot pepper sauce or powder is temporarily very effective but washes off in the rain.  Some nibblers are repelled by the odor of marigolds and nasturtiums. These plants also deter many insects and are ornamental.  However, if you want a quick fix in order to save this year's crop, you might try a product now on the market no one I know has yet used: a hot pepper wax that does not wash off but which peels off when you wish.  I hope someone will experiment with it and report back. You can also make a spray from mashed garlic, vegetable oil and water.

If your pear tree is small enough you might cover it with a net--although Aunt Sioux complains that her squirrel visitors deftly
undo netting.  Wire mesh is available but cumbersome.  Shiny CDs and aluminum pie pans hung in trees help keep birds away. Cousin Forsyte planted his fruit trees so far from each other and other trees that the squirrels can't jump from one to the other, but not all of us have enough space to do that. And even so he has seen the occasional squirrel scamper thorugh his gauntlet of dogs and run up a tree for snacks.