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Your guide to Chesaeake Country's freshest produce and more!

Keep Your Garden for Yourself

Here’s a repellent that passes the Bay Gardener’s tests

Deer, racoons, groundhogs, rabbits and squirrels are a major problem in vegetable gardens and in landscapes. Many home gardeners have stopped growing hosta because the deer ravage their ornamental plantings. Groundhogs and racoons as well as deer invade the vegetable garden to feast on corn, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and beans. Rabbits love to feast on lettuce, cabbage and snap beans.

In the 1980s, I developed what is known as hot sauce animal repellent, which is made from the waste of Tabasco Sauce manufacturing. I have recommended moth balls buried in the ground to protect crocus corms and tulip bulbs from chipmunks, voles and pine mice. I have used bars of soap tied to lower branches of trees to prevent male deer, the bucks, from rubbing the bark of young trees. My neighbor hangs aluminum pie tins tied in a fence around his garden to keep the deer from feasting on his tomatoes. And if you can tolerate the odor, lion dung in a watertight container will repel deer and other animals.

However, this year I have been testing a new product called Shotgun Repels-All. It is available either as a granule or solution. When first applied, it generates a strong garlic odor that disappears within a few days after application. However, it is apparent that deer, racoons, groundhogs, rabbits and squirrels can still detect the odor.

I used lettuce as a test plant because it is eaten by rabbits and deer.

I surrounded the lettuce with a small fence until the plants were well established and growing vigorously. The first night after I removed the fence, the deer browsed the lettuce plants to the ground. I replaced the fence and allowed the plants to grow for three more weeks, after which I removed the fence and placed a one-inch-wide band of Shotgun Repels-All around the perimeter of the block of lettuce.

It has now been two months, and neither deer nor rabbits have touched the lettuce plants. I also laid a one-inch-wide band around my vegetable garden, which has not been invaded by racoons, groundhogs or rabbits.

I have since recommended Shotgun Repels-All to my brother in New Hampshire, where he has moose problems in his garden. He reports that his garden has not been invaded by any wild animals this year.

Animals don’t seem to like it, so you might.

Start Lavatera from Seed

Q My son-in-law has a Lavatera shrub that I want a cutting from. How do I go about getting a good start from the original plant? 
I can’t find a Lavatera. The only nurseries that have them seem to be in England or Ireland.

–Vicki Marsh, Deale

A Lavatera plants are grown almost exclusively from seeds. Cuttings root poorly and do not perform well; they don’t transplant well either. The seeds are easy to germinate, but they have about a three-month dormancy period after they have matured.