Exploring Kansas outdoors: Redneck garden remedies

Steve Gilliland

What do you get when you mix equal amounts of water and cider vinegar in a jar with one or two drops of dishwashing soap? According to a friend of ours, you get a trap for fruit flies. At this time of year, along with all the fresh fruits and vegetables from our gardens, there are also those tiny and annoying flies that buzz around our products. This mixture attracts them to the essence of cider vinegar and dishwashing soap removes the tension from the surface of the water so that when they fall into the bottle they sink directly into the bottom. She says it works great!

An effective Hillbilly mouse trap can be made by filling a five gallon bucket with water a couple of inches from the top with water, spreading peanut butter on the top edge of the bucket or pouring feed for cattle to float on the water, then supporting a board at an angle from the ground to the top of the cube for a ramp. Mice looking for an easy meal will try to hang on the edge to get peanut butter or lean over the water to eat a floating food and finally end up in the drink.

After hearing from my brother last night about everything that has to happen to protect his garden from deer and other creatures where he lives in the deep woods of southern Ohio, I referred to a book by the Master Gardener of the United States , Jerry Baker, entitled "Bug Off" In which he presents bushels full of home remedies to keep all kinds of bugs, especially raccoons, rabbits and deer, out of the gardens and truck patches.

  • Raccoons are the bane of the sweetcorn patch. Jerry recommends gathering all the electric fans that can be redeemed in garage sales, then, using outdoor extension cords, place them all over the garden and run them at full speed for several nights in a row to lessen the raccoon's interest.
  • Evidently, raccoons hate the smell of bleach and ammonia, so fill the margarine containers with both liquids and place them among your most vulnerable plants.
  • As a hunter, I know that raccoons have very sensitive feet and this obstacle uses that weakness against them. Around the perimeter of the garden, place a three-foot-wide strip of fragments of broken pots, irregular stones, prickly sticks of roses or brambles, wire meshes or anything else sharp or spiny and Coons will refuse to cross it. This requires more work but will last longer.
  • Rabbits can devour a patch of vegetables overnight. Much of Jerry's advice for deterring rabbits is centered around fencing where practical, and making their yard or garden less attractive by removing the nearby deck, growing rabbits don't like them and keep them away from the garden with plants that can not resist. However, he has a couple of novel suggestions.
  • The first is a spray that he calls Hot Bite Spray, made with cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, ammonia and baby shampoo. He guarantees that any bug that knows this will never come back for a second bite (contact me for the formula and instructions).
  • The other suggestion is to buy a ferret, or make friends with someone who owns a ferret and offer you a babysitter.
  • Recently, someone asked me how to keep deer away from their grapes and berries, and a friend of mine in Minnesota, who runs a full-time animal control business, recommends an electric fence around the waist around the patch. Jerry Baker takes that one step further and says to rub the fence with peanut butter. The smell of peanut butter will make them smell it or lick it, which will result in a blow to the snoot or tongue, and they will never come back.
  • Instead of washing or throwing your husband's old, smelly socks and sneakers, hang them around the patch of your truck. Jerry calls this a classic trick of chasing deer.
  • The trappers use all kinds of odors and odors from animals, and Jerry says that the urine of any major predator will send the deer to run. Coyote urine is available, and you will never notice a little sprayed around your garden, but the deer will surely run away.

These are just some of the newest suggestions that Jerry Baker has to prevent four-legged bugs from spoiling his products, and this book is just one of many that he has published with the same type of homemade suggestions. Although there is really nothing "Redneck" in any of these remedies as indicated by the title, I thought I could get your attention and make you read more, and if you are reading this sentence, I would say it worked! So eat well while continuing to explore Kansas outdoors.

Steve Gilliland, Inman, can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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