Monday, March 26, 2012

Outfoxing Furry Critters in Your Garden

Mama & pup

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a no-cost, natural, sustainable way to control furry critters that eat your garden harvest before you even get a chance to pick some for yourself?

“We have zero problems with bunnies, moles, voles, mice, and chipmunks in our strawberry and blueberry gardens,” explained Beth, a Howard County Master Gardener.  “I’ve got what one of our neighbor’s calls a fox ‘nursery den’ in our backyard and she has the ‘adult den’ in her yard, so small critters just aren’t problem.

“Mama fox gave birth to eight pups last spring,” Beth said.  “I spent hours watching and photographing the pups romp in our backyard while Mama stood guard.  I discovered that my best vantage point was from the edge of my bathtub because it’s perpendicular to the den.  Because the foxes were anywhere from 50 to 200 feet away, I used a zoom lens.  They enjoyed eating the peanuts and sunflower seeds as much as the birds did, and they used our birdbath as a drinking dish.”

Are foxes the perfect critter control for suburban gardeners?

Pups at play
“Not quite,” Beth answered.  “We have a pair of groundhogs that are larger than the foxes—and the groundhogs are stopping by daily to see what’s growing.  And then there are the deer that browse through our property nearly every day.  Last year I planted one tomato plant, and the deer ate all the green tomatoes.  I tore out the plant in frustration.

“I’m told to expect a new litter this year,” Beth continued.  “I saw Papa fox scoping the neighborhood earlier this year, but I’ve not seen Mama yet.  I do hope they return.  The pups are so much fun to watch.”

But the groundhogs and deer—mountain lions, anyone?

More water, please
Thank you, Beth, for sharing your story and photographs.

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