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adventures in container gardening: critter control!

you want to get on my bad side? dig up my parsley.
want to no longer be friends? nibble on my basil.

... uninvited of course.  today we're talking "critter control".

critter // squirrels

i've read that it's best to either water in the early morning or late evening bc less water is lost through evaporation during the hotter hours. so i water my garden in the mornings. the only problem is that i'm usually running about 10 (who am i kidding ... 30) minutes behind in the morning.

we share our front porch w/ our neighbor, jerry - an elderly gentleman who is quite the character & conversationalist. last week, i found jerry eating hisbreakfast on our shared front porch. of course, i was running late. for a moment, i contemplated skipping the watering. but my tomatoes and cucumbers needed me ... so i wandered out and said hello.

jerry keeps an excellent watch over our garden - and he's taught me a ton! while discussing the discoloring on my tomato plant leaves, a squirrel leapt on to the porch and bee-lined straight for my parsley. jerry - hunched over & bare-chested - and myself - in dress & high heels - took off running towards him. we chased that dang vermin back and forth the length of our porch cursing and flaring at least 5 times until we finally gave up. we're talking one determined squirrel!

why do squirrels dig? did you know that squirrels hide extra nuts all year long? then when they are hungry, they hunt for them. the soft soil & sweet smell of a garden is a natural temptation for them to start digging. so w/o borrowing grandpa's bb gun, how do you deter an animal that depends on smell for a living? give them a smell even they can't stand! a few recommendations: male urine, human hair, smelly moth balls. gross!

we're using miracle-gro organic choice blood meal. blood meal is a dry powder made from animal blood (sorry, vegan friends). okay okay it's still gross. and it's still pretty potent but it has add'l benefits that set it apart from the urine recommendation. this organic nitrogen supplement corrects nitrogen deficiency in soil promoting vigorous growth in flowers & vegetables.  

to use: evenly sprinkle the powder over the soil - not just concentrating around the plants - but the entire surface. mix into the top 1-3" of soil then water after application.

critter // bugs

the second we started to get the squirrels under control, i noticed somebody had been treating my basil like a buffet! and i soon found the culprits - 2 chubby little caterpillars happily napping post lunch. most of the insecticides i found are basically bug poison. i'm not sure about you, but that seems like a big ol' no no for something we plan to consume. (even if i plan to wash it first.)

we're using ortho elementals insecticidal soap. it kills all kinds of bugs: adelgids, aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, mites, and caterpillars to name a few. and it's organic! which means it may be applied to edible plants up to the day of harvest!

to use: simply spray it on your plants (don't forget the underside of your leaves). you can use weekly or bi-weekly as needed.

alright - your turn: what's your best kept secret for keeping critters out of your garden?


oh hey - it's the last day! sign up for this awesome noonday giveaway (a $78 value). you can enter up to 4x - how 'bout them odds. you can thank me later ... ;)


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