Squirrels - corn - dammit!

aliceg8(CO 5)August 13, 2007

I just popped out to look at the garden, and my cool, bi-colored sweet corn is obviously ripe for eating - evidenced by 4 ears on the ground. The bad thing is that there's really only 1 more ear on the plants that I can pick today.

Some of the ears are only partially eaten. Would it be dumb to cook them anyway? Would the hot water kill any bacteria?

Dogs are staying out in the morning now!!

One another tack - tomatoes are ripening now. 2 Celebrity to pick for dinner tonight - yeah! And another 2 just called "Black" are starting to show a beautiful dusky color. They are supposed to be very large, sweet, slicing tomatos. I'm drooling on the keyboard now!

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cnetter(z5 Co)

I'm in a constant battle with racoons right now. I don't know if the partially eaten cobs would be safe - I've either pitched them or given them to the chickens.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 10:28AM
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michelle_co(z5 CO)

I never had luck with corn, racoons always got it right before I was ready to pick it. Finally planted it near my house last year where the dogs could guard it, and a scourge of blackbirds and crows moved in & raided it!

How do the critters KNOW that we are planning to harvest the corn the next day? I swear they can tell.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 11:14AM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

Hmmm, maybe it's racoons that got my corn. I was just making an assumption. I guess I assumed squirrels because the ears were left behind half eaten. I figure racoons would be big enough to take them away.

Then again, I remember a funny situation at our last house. I had put some ears in the compost bin from our table scraps, a squirrel somehow got in, grabbed it and proceeded to take it up the pine tree. At just about the same time, our dog spotted him, and made a mad run. Scared the squirrel into dropping the cob, which Chance promptly gobbled up!

And yes, Michelle, how do they know the ears are ripe? Do they stick tiny claws in to the kernels to see if they pop?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 3:45PM
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Alice, I'd imagine that tree squirrels can be taught to raid corn because of all the dry corn people are putting out for them but I have no experience with any problems in the garden from tree squirrels. Maybe they just aren't quite on the scene yet.

If these are ground squirrels - you will need to get rid of them. I think they will destroy absolutely everything edible within a certain distance of their burrows.

My recent run-in with marmots (read, "giant, 20 pound squirrels") ended in my favor but I used to garden where there was a constant supply of these pests  on city parkland.

Remarkably, I initially considered sweet corn a safe crop. Keep in mind that they are really stupid critters (or maybe just highly evolved and wiliness just isn't required). Also, since the garden was fenced, there was a danger of being caught inside and so they had to keep moving while they were there - quick bite and then run. Despite leaving the ears of corn alone early on, they finally learned to dig the sprouting seed and eat it. Never did learn that a ripe ear of corn could be shucked . . .

Right now and for the last 10 years or so, it's been the 'coons. Ripe corn just cannot be left in the garden. It MUST be harvested or the coons will do it for me. With that kind of thinking, I've gotten by the last 5 years or so with minimal damage - only a couple ears each season. And, I'm sure to completely remove the ears that are on the ground after this invasion. Leaving ripped-up raw corn, I assume, is just sending out an invitation for more coon damage.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 10:30PM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

Well as far as I know digitS, it's only tree squirrels here. I do believe now that it was a racoon. I live in town, and there are areas nearby where they would live, but I'm guessing they only wander over here among the houses randomly. So I'm hoping I'll be able to harvest the rest before they return.

It's funny, I was wondering when the corn would be ripe. Peeling the shuck back revealed very immature kernals at the top, so I assumed it needed more time. But looking at the ears that the racoon took, it was immature at the top and ripe at the bottom. So I'll go more by size and feel now.

I also had trouble with the seeds being eaten after I planted. Even after they sprouted. I assumed this was crows. But I'm such a novice vegetabe gardener, and new to Colorado as well, so who knows. Either way, I'm thinking that next years garden won't have corn. I think I can use that space more productively.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 2:13PM
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Racoons are a big nuisance if you are trying to grow sweetcorn. I grow a big garden every year, and cannot trace any damage to the racoons except sweetcorn. My electric fence keeps out the deer but does not seem to keep out the racoons. Keeping racoons out with electric fence requires higher voltage than I am willing to use. You have to trap or poison the racoons if you want to grow sweetcorn here in my neck of the woods. If you have religious, philosophical, or other beliefs that forbid getting rid of racoons, you should not try raising sweetcorn around here. You will just be frustrated. If you are not troubled by such reservations, you can lower the population in two ways: (1) Havahart trap followed by 22 bullet in back of head and/or (2) Golden Malrin blue crystal flybait (about one tablespoon)(buy at Tractor Supply Store in the fly control section)mixed with some kind of liquid food or soda pop. By the way, my electric fence has even discouraged deer from consuming my hostas in other parts of the yard, as they seem now to be avoiding my entire yard. On using the trap vs Malrin, the Malrin is the most effective but the trap is safer because you can just release any innocent parties caught in there. I have never caught anything except groundhogs and raccoons, however. You can make the Malrin safer by (1) putting it in the garage and raising the garage door about 5-6 inches to discourage larger animals from entering and (2) only put it out at night. To be on the safe side, you might want to check local laws on pest control, and not use the Malrin if you have stray domestic animals or chickens around as it is very effective in ending stray animal problems of any kind.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 6:56AM
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The Red Squirrels attack my corn here. They are actually very smart animals here. You can usually tell by the amount of damage to the stalks whether it was squirrels or racoons. Racoons got my corn this year. Much more damage than usual.

I came up with a really good method to protect corn though! Too bad i forgot to use it this year! I devoted most my area to the watermelons, and only had a few rows of corn this year. But, i was attempting to selectively breed corn that has deeper roots. I had some success this year, and had some cobs bigger than i have ever had. But they got eaten.

Ok, anyway, the best method i have found that deters squirrels 100% of the time (as far as i have tested it), and possibly racoons is to tie each cob of nearly ripe corn to the stalk with twine. I usually tie it once with a simple knot, and use the left over string to tie another knot going around the opposite way. Last year i had squirrels attack every corn without the cob tied, but they didn't even bother attacking the ones that did. It was like they knew it would be too much trouble. I have no idea if this method works with racoons, but it should at least prevent them from taking them with them and it should severely reduce them from eating very much.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 1:27AM
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