And Yet Another Newbie

luvabasilSeptember 9, 2012

Holy Moly! I can't believe I am finally in! Not only am I garden challenged, but apparently computer challanged, as well. Now that I am here, I feel like an excited kid in front of her mentors and I can't remember any of my questions! OK, OK, I do have two:

1. I planted corn. It grew, and then one day, on my picninc table, were several ears. Eaten. And under the tree was another pile. How do you guys protect the corn from raccoons?

2. While lamenting over the corn, and secretly thanking the racconns for being neat, I noticed a gopher hole. Rather large. Have any of you had any luck against the gophers with daffodils?

Thanks for the taking the time to help me.

Oh, and Chandra. Thank you for sharing your pictures. I do not know how you do it. Do you offer lessons?

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slowpoke_gardener

Luvabasil, if you dont drink, maybe you should start. It is easier to get drunk than to control coons or gophers.

The gophers are pretty easy to trap with a box trap. I use an electric fence to try to discourage deer and coons.
An electric should be used with caution, in town I doubt you could use one anyway.

Larry

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:35PM
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luvabasil

Thanks, Larry!
I would need an awful lot of traps for the families of gophers I have....perhaps I could share the gin with the raccoons..............

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:55PM
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mulberryknob

We trap coons in a live trap. But are you sure it's coons? Squirrels will also pick corn ears and eat them leaving the cobs lying around. Daffodils are poisonous and several years ago we surrounded the garden with them to keep the gophers out. Unfortunately we penned some in. We drop poison pellets down their runs.

Oh, and welcome to the forum.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 10:41PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Luvabasil,

Welcome to the forum. I agree with Larry that the best way to deal with the coons and gophers is to just pour yourself an adult beverage and it will make you forget about them, albeit temporarily.

We don't have a big problem at our house with gophers or moles because our cats kill them. Every now and then a vole will pop up here or there, sometimes in the garden and sometimes out of it, and if the cats can't get the voles, I'll use one of the liquid gopher repellents to drive it out of the garden.

For coons in the corn, I employ a variety of techniques. Here's the three that work best for us:

1) Planting a variety of corn with a short DTM and planting it as early in the spring as possible. Normally I plant 'Early Sunglow' sometimes between mid-March and late-March, and assuming I can keep it from freezing during a late freeze, we will be harvesting that corn before Memorial Day weekend. The raccoons never get the early corn. I think it matures before they are expecting there to be any corn available and so they aren't climbing the garden fence and getting into the garden and getting the corn.

2) I interplant mid-season and late-season corn with pumpkins. I plant the pumpkin plants all around the edges of the rows of corn, and put a few plants in the middle of the corn. Apparently the raccoons don't like the big, coarse and often prickly pumpkin plants and often they'll leave the corn alone if it is surrounded by pumpkins. This can make harvesting corn a bit tricky because I have to be careful not to step on the pumpkin vines. Some years I have great success with this method, but others years I don't.

3) Growing mid-season and late-season corn in a corn cage is my most failsafe method. A corn cage is just a portion of the garden that is fenced off with woven wire fencing and which has a 'roof' made of woven wire fencing that is connected to the 'walls' of the corn cage so the raccoons cannot go over the fence and get into the corn. This works perfectly at excluding the raccoons 100% of the time. The only way they've ever gotten corn from the corn cage is if I planted a row too close to the sides of the cage and the coons were able to reach through the fence and pick corn ears. That was a mistake I made only once. I do have to be sure the gate is closed securely with bungee cords so the raccoons cannot force the gate open.

Trapping raccoons may or may not work for you. We tried it and found it wasn't effective enough. We are very near the Red River and have heavily forested land, so there is an absolutely endless supply of coons. We have no desire to trap and kill them all, even if we could. One of our neighbors who lives closer to the river than we do has a worse raccoon problem than we do. One year, he was determined he was going to trap and kill all the raccoons so they wouldn't get his corn crop yet again. Eighteen nights he trapped a raccoon, shot it, rebaited the trap and put it back out to catch the next one. Eighteen nights. Eighteen dead raccoons. How much corn did he get from his patch which consisted of several hundred plants? Not a single ear. The coons still got it all. Because of his location, he simply has more coons than he can trap and kill during corn season. That's one of the reasons we built the corn cage.

Some people have luck with buying ears of corn a couple of weeks before their corn is going to be mature. They peel back the husks, and spray the corn kernels with Tabasco sauce or something similar. Then, they pull the husks back up over the ear of corn and in the evening they place it on the ground near their corn crop. They repeat this most every night until they've harvested their corn, or until the coons stop coming to their garden. After getting Tabasco sauce on their paws and in their mouths, the coons decide they don't like your corn and move on. The only problem with this is that if you are in an area with many coons, there's still a chance a new coon that hasn't visited previously will show up and get your corn anyway because he or she hasn't tasted the Tabasco-sauce-laced ears.

Since we built the corn cage, I simply haven't had to worry about raccoons getting the corn. To me, that makes the corn cage a priceless addition to our garden. Next year I'm even going to plant the early corn in the corn cage because we enlarged the cage this year, but by the time we got around to doing that, the Early Sunglow had been planted elsewhere.

Some years it has taken an enormous amount of energy to deal with all the critters that want to eat our garden and its produce, but ever since we raised our garden fence from 4 feet to 8'-9' about 3 years ago, I have fewer and fewer issues with varmints since most of them cannot get into the garden as long as I remember to close the gates. The coons are an exception because they climb.

Dawn

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:52AM
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chickencoupe

Welcome, luvabasil.

bon

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:18AM
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macmex

Luvabasil,

Welcome to the forum. It's worth a try to trap them. However, as Dawn has mentioned, sometimes the pressure is just too great. A local coon hunter (who uses hounds) told me of a farmer who offered him $15 per coon, to kill them on his place. In three nights he and his dogs killed 100 (ONE HUNDRED) coon!

We have two livestock guardian dogs. They pretty well keep all the coon and opossum off our place. I see them crossing the road, at night, about 1/2 mile down the road. But they don't even leave tracks along our pond or creek. They never bother our garden.

Also, years ago, we switched to non-sweet corn. We like it fine, roasted. But the coon and squirrels don't care for it.

George
Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:33AM
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scottokla(7)

Luvabasil, I suggest getting two box traps and setting them every evening. Sept and Oct are the best two months for killing gophers because the young ones are out finding new homes now and the rain will make them push up a lot of new mounds. You can pretty much kill out 2 acres of dense gopher populations in a month if you spend 30 minutes each evening stting traps. I got over 100 in our five acre "yard" when we first moved out here.

I killed one today and one this weekend. Every fall I have to get the traps out and kill 10 or 12 to keep them from moving back in.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 4:08PM
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luvabasil

Ms Dawn: Corn Cage? That sounds like my best bet. Are we talking about farm fencing (thats what we called in in Blanco, TX) with 2" x 3" openings?
Scotokla: I don't know that I have the courage to kill a trapped gopher. Most certainly not if I am taking Larry's advise with the adult beverage. At the same time, I am not wanting to catch and release.
Anyone have luck with gassing?
And thanks for the welcome. Seriously, I don't feel so alone anymore. Since moving here in 2010, I have managed basil, garlic, saffron, and 1 tomatoe. Yes, 1 each tomatoe. And I planted a HUGE garden. It's embarrassing.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Luvabasil, Yes, that's generally the kind of fencing we use. For the veggie garden as a whole, that's the kind of fencing we have, and the corn cage is inside the big garden with its own wire fencing. On the big wire fencing that encloses the whole garden, I had to attach 1" chicken wire to the lower 2 feet of the woven wire fencing in order to keep out small critters like baby rabbits. A couple of years ago we raised the fence to 8' tall and that keeps out some of the bigger critters, like deer and bobcats, that were jumping the 4' tall fence. Every time I think I have figured out how to keep all the varmints out of the garden, a different one finds its way in. Our place tends to be either a 3-ring circus or a zoo all the time, but life is never dull.

Don't blame yourself for the garden results. It is the weather. The last two years have been completely brutal. You can do everything right but if the weather doesn't cooperate, the garden just isn't going to produce up to its full potential. That's just a fact of life here with our weather which tends to get rather extreme at times. Since you lived in Blanco, you already know all about how brutal the climate can be here in the southern plains.

Dawn

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 8:19PM
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luvabasil

thank you, all. And yes, Blanco summers were brutal. But I started my garden in January, skipped the July and Aug and picked up in Sept for at least 4 more months.
Bobcats? What do they eat in the garden? I know they poo in my flowers, (that as a bit unnerving) but i hadn't even considered the veggies.
One more question and I will stay quiet for at least 24 hours:
Is the corn cage square? or on tremendously large hoops?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:49PM
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TraceyOKC(7)

Welcome luvabasil.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:53PM
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