Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson and Kim Palmer are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Posts about Critters and pests

It’s dinnertime for deer

Posted by: Lynn Underwood Updated: April 24, 2015 - 2:19 PM

Oh deer! It’s only April and deer have already chomped on three hydrangea bushes I just planted last summer. The young shrubs were about two feet tall and the hungry critters devoured the branches clear to the ground. I hope adversity makes hydrangeas stronger and they come back in May.

I checked the University of Minnesota Extension Service, and as expected, hydrangeas are on the list of deer “Generally Preferred Plants.” And keep an eye on your sprouting hostas -  they love to feast on those, too.

A couple of summers ago, I was checking on the progress of my lilies -also a deer preferred plant - and discovered clumps of empty stems The tender buds were cleanly bitten off like a lollipop by deer - or maybe rabbits. So last year, I took a bar of Irish Spring soap and used a potato peeler to scatter soap shavings around the base of the lilies. It kind of worked - they only chewed off some of the buds. I guess deer only find certain lily varieties tasty.

Deodorant soap is one of the repellents suggested by the U of M Extension Service article “Coping with Deer in Home Landscapes” (http://bit.ly/1rEBNfO.) There are two types of repellents -  one applied to the plants, causing them to taste bad. The other type is a repellent placed in the problem area, which keep deer out because of a foul odor. Someone even did a study and tested six different repellents - with Deer Away, an egg-based product, the most effective.

But I like the homemade remedies - like eggs blended with cold water and sprayed on  foliage or hanging mesh bags of human hair in the garden. They’re organic - and cheaper.

Have deer or rabbits munched on emerging plants in your yard and garden? What repellents have worked for you?

Photos by Hostasdirect.com and Ecologicalwildlifesolutions.com.

The garden and gardener are ready for Spring.

Posted by: Helen Yarmoska Updated: April 16, 2015 - 9:04 AM

 

Perhaps it was the lack of mud this Spring, but I’m prepared for the garden to commence it’s escape from the grips of winter. One raised bed’s soil was turned and peas, lettuce and radish were planted. Check - that’s ready. We had a guy out to aerate the lawn – check.

The trellises are tied to the fence, spaced and ready for cucumbers. And this year, I’m planting morning glories on one of the trellis. Why? For my honeybees!

That’s where I’m REALLY ready. We’ve been keeping bees for over 15 years at our cabin. With good years and bad, bumper crops and bears. I’m happy to report that the fine city of Edina has passed a honeybee ordinance.

Everything for our backyard apiary has checked out. The neighbors have time to send

in grievances, but we are hoping for the best. The kids next door can’t wait to see me in my "bee outfit."

Bees are pretty self-sufficient; you don’t really need to do too much for them. Things are starting to bloom already, so we won’t feed them, we just need check once in a while to make sure they have adequate room to grow. And grow, I hope they do.

By August we hope to have about 120,000 bees housed in our small lot. It might get a little crowded, but we are hoping for the best. The girls (the majority of bees in the hive are immature females), will have an abundance of nectar, a safe bear-free environment, and keepers that are looking forward to nicely pollinated apples, pears and vegetables.

Are you ready for Spring? What’s on your check sheet?

What critter made these tunnels?

Posted by: Martha Buns Updated: August 19, 2014 - 8:29 AM

 

A friend of mine has some critter on the loose in her yard that's making tunnels, and is resistant to being persuaded to leave the premises. While I have critter problems, all of mine are above-ground dwellers, so I don't have experience from which to offer her advice and I'm hoping some Green Girls followers out there can help her. So it is a mole, vole, or other? And what methods have you used to get these varmints to move on?
 
She offers some clues:
 
1. The holes are under a crab apple tree, about 3 feet apart and a good 8 inches deep.
2. The tunnel is horizontal. You could run the tape measure through the hole and it would pop out the other side
3. She has dug up the tunnels, washed them out with water, smoked them, placed planters over the tunnel holes for several years in a row. She keeps them there long enough (a month or more?) to encourage it to move on. And it seems to move, until the holes re-appear late spring. Ugh!
 
What pesky animal makes these holes and how does she make them realize they've worn out their welcome?

The good, the bad and the ugly

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: August 18, 2014 - 4:49 PM

Gardens spring forth with high hopes, but by mid-August, the garden is what it is. It's time to savor the successes -- and write off what didn't pan out this year. Here's what's going on in my garden, the good, the bad and the ugly:

THE GOOD: We are now harvesting awesomely delicious tomatoes, plus as much basil and oregano as we can pick. Squash and peppers will soon be ripe and ready for the table. And my nasturtiums are still ablaze with tasty blooms for tossing in salads. I love the peppery kick of the flowers and the leaves. 

On the ornamental front, one of my succulents surprised me by shooting off a long arm, which is now covered with hot-pink buds. I've never gotten a succulent to flower before. Cool!

THE BAD: What happened to the morning glories? I plant them every year, usually from seed, and I typically get like three flowers, and not until early October. This year, I bought plants at the garden center, figuring that would speed up the flowering. But I still haven't seen a single bloom -- just a few feeble bud-like nubs that dried up and fell off. What the heck?

THE UGLY: An intruder has discovered my awesomely delicious tomatoes. Every morning when I check the vines, there are two or three more tomatoes with giant gaping bites taken out of them. I suspect the bold chipmunk I often see darting around my deck. But we also have an army of squirrels snacking on maple seeds in the tree right above my tomato pots, so it could be one of them. I'm glad they're enjoying them -- we have enough to share.

What's good, bad or just-plain ugly in your garden, now that summer is winding down?

Snatching victory from the jaws of squirrels

Posted by: Martha Buns Updated: July 22, 2014 - 8:59 PM

I've gotten very tired of coming home to see what had been tomatoes on the cusp of ripeness hanging from the vines in shards. For the most part the squirrels don't even bother to make off with their prize, just claw at it to the point that it's no longer a candidate for the table.

I'd made a few efforts this weekend to try to ward them off, knowing that the riper the tomatoes got, the more vulnerable to marauders they become. But a ring of netting didn't deter the varmints, so I'm going to have to take sterner measures.

In the meantime, until I get to a store for more defense supplies, I've started taking the precaution of picking them far sooner than I would ordinarily prefer, just so we get some tomatoes this year, even if they're counter-ripened.

Do squirrels attack your tomatoes? And what measures have you had success and failure with when it comes to protecting your bounty?

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