Problem-Solving – Bunnies…Again!


I wrote a few weeks ago about rabbits nipping off the leaves of my lilies. When the clover thrived in my backyard they left their garden bed nibbling for better grazing amongst the sweet flowers.


My lilies recovered, grew, and began to bud, but alas and alack, my husband mowed down the high grass in the backyard for our Memorial Day picnic. I didn’t think much about it until a few days ago when I noticed a bunny sitting in the garden bed, very still. The plants nearby his location were gently swaying in a strange motion and there was no breeze.


OH NO! It dawned on me the strange swaying was being caused by the front incisors of the rabbit’s teeth. I ran out, but not in time, the bunny had bitten down three of my lily stems and eaten them.


I immediately grabbed my wrist rocket slingshot, but couldn’t seem to bring myself to use it. I wanted to sting the bunny, but not harm him, and I had no idea what ammunition would work but cause no lasting pain. I asked my husband if a craft pompom wet down with hot sauce would work and he just laughed at me. I think I hear you laughing too!


I’m putting my pest repellent skills in play, instead of trying to shoot pompoms or pebbles, and simmering some dried Chile de Arbol in water with garlic and onion to create a potent, smelly hot sauce mix that will repel those Wascally Wabbits. (This said for the benefit of those old enough to remember Elmer Fudd. ūüėÄ )


My crockpot, placed outside on the porch, is the easiest way I’ve found to cook this potion. The smell is very strong. After a few hours, I drain off the water, strain several times, and spray the plant being eaten. This natural solution works, but has a few drawbacks: it washes away in the rain and must be reapplied, it is hard to strain finely enough to spray out of a normal spray bottle, and worst of all…the peppers can burn eyes, skin, and even the lungs.  Please be especially careful not to inhale the fumes.


I also grind the peppers and scatter them among the garden beds. This is the most likely way you will inhale the dust so wearing a mask is not a bad idea.

Dangers of Chili Powder

If it works, it will be worth it to me, but if you try it, please be cautious when handling the peppers. Updates will follow.

Problem-Solving – This is War Part I

I hope the photograph shows the deep hole in my Square Foot Garden. My peas were just beginning to sprout when some type of marauding critter decided to make them a meal.

Something large and furry had to be the culprit, or could it have been something large and feathery? My first impulse was to blame the squirrels, but they have been in the yard with my Square Foot Garden for several weeks and have not ventured past the chicken wire enclosing it. The same day I saw the devastation in the garden, I spotted a large chipmunk running around the yard. I know they are cute, but chipmunks are tops on my problem wildlife list. They are voracious and destructive and actually can be dangerous. My neighbor broke her wrist a summer or two ago by catching her foot in a chipmunk burrow and falling. One summer our yard became so overrun the chipmunks scavenged relentlessly even when we were only a few feet away. Wild turkeys have visited my yard too, but thankfully, only once. Yesterday I saw the mallard ducks. They are back. Every spring they return to my yard. Why? To eat beneath the birdfeeder, and then for dessert feast on every fish they can scoop up in my pond. The ducks have become a pest too and are able to easily fly over the chicken wire and gobble up my sprouting peas and greens.

So the big question is what to do to fight them. I have had mixed results in past years. The bug spray I made a few days ago might repel the animals, but the ducks don’t have a sense of smell and will¬†not be stopped¬†by a repellent scent. I also must reapply every time it rains, and if I don’t get out there and re-spray within five minutes of rain stopping, the hungry pests might get there first.

My first weapon was applied immediately, chile powder straight out of the bottle. I have some dried chiles still on hand, and I will blend those and keep at the ready to spread around. So far this has repelled whatever it was that dug up the peas.

I am also a firm believer in scare tactics. Anyone who has lived beside me might know that when I see something near sprouting plants I might run outside roaring like a lion in attempts to scare them away. It works. It also sends my heart rate pounding. I don’t know how wise it is to sprint and roar like this, but hey, it works. I also came up with a few temporary and permanent solutions. Tomorrow I’ll post the permanent solution, but for today, the temporary solution is the focus.

Water balloons. They are at the ready in a basket, filled with water and bit of garlic powder for a little added punch. If I see one of the culprits in or near my garden, they are in for a surprise. Tee-hee! I just hope tomorrow’s newspaper headlines don’t read: “Grandmother falls out second story window lobbing water balloons at wildlife.”

IMPORTANT CAUTION: Balloons can be lethal to small children because they are a choking hazard. Make sure to remove all shreds of balloons out of your yard.

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Projects – Square Foot Gardening Update

Yesterday, after visiting Roork’s¬†in Elmer, New Jersey, we began mixing the growing medium for our first square foot garden. Setting these gardens up is a bit pricey. For one 4 x 6 raised bed we spent about 75.00. The good news is that this expense is a one-time occurrence. In coming years we will only need to¬†add a bit of our own compost to the bed. These raised beds need no fertilizer or additional amendments.

Mixing was easy in an old children’s swimming pool. We mixed half the product at a time. Joe did the mixing, I did the clump-busting with a metal garden rake.

We used four different types of humus, the book recommends five, but we decided four was enough, two types of manure, one mushroom soil, and bucketfuls of our own compost from the bin.

We used a whole bale of peat moss as the book, Square Foot Gardening, recommends.

A bale of vermiculite was next. This was the most expensive item. It does look much more natural than perlite though, so in the long run we know it will be more aesthetically appealing.

All we need now is a bit of fencing to keep the rascally rabbits, the curious cats, and the¬†mischevious chipmunks and squirrels out of the bed. Today I might work on making some scary looking owl replicas out of old CD’s. Fun.