What do you get when you mix equal amounts of water and cider vinegar in a jar with a drop or two of dishwashing soap? According to a friend of ours, you get a redneck fruit fly trap. This time of the year along with all the fresh fruit and veggies from our gardens also comes those pesky tiny fruit flies that buzz around our produce. This concoction draws them to the scent of the cider vinegar and the dishwashing soap eliminates water surface tension so that when they land in the jar they sink straight to the bottom. She says it works great.

An effective hillbilly mouse trap can be made by filling a five gallon bucket a couple inches from the top with water, smearing peanut butter on the upper lip of the bucket or pouring grain or livestock feed to float on the water, then leaning a board at an angle from the floor to the top of the bucket for a ramp. Mice searching for an easy meal will attempt to hang onto the rim to get the peanut butter or lean out over the water to eat some floating feed and ultimately end up in the drink. 

After hearing from my brother last night about all he has to go through to protect his garden from deer and other critters where he lives deep in the southern Ohio woods, I referred to a book by America’s Master Gardener, Jerry Baker, entitled “Bug Off” in which he presents bushels full of down-home remedies for keeping all manner of critters, especially raccoons, rabbits and deer, out of gardens and truck patches.

Raccoons are the bane of the sweet corn patch. Jerry recommends corralling all the electric fans you can barter for at garage sales, then, using outdoor extension cords place them all around the garden and run them on high all night for several nights in a row to dampen the coon’s interest.

Evidently raccoons hate the smell of both bleach and ammonia, so fill old margarine tubs with either liquid and place them among your most vulnerable plants. 

As a trapper, I know that coons’ have very sensitive feet and this hindrance uses that weakness against them. Around the perimeter of the garden, lay a three foot wide strip of broken pot shards, jagged stones, thorny rose or bramble canes, wire mesh or anything else sharp or prickly and coons’ will refuse to cross it. This one requires the most work but will last the longest.

Rabbits can devour a patch of greens’ overnight. Much of Jerry’s advise for deterring rabbits centers around fencing where practical, and making your yard or garden less inviting by removing nearby cover, growing plants rabbits don’t like and luring them away from the garden with plants they can’t resist. He does however have a couple novel suggestions.

The first is a spray he calls his Hot Bite Spray, concocted from cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, ammonia and baby shampoo. He guarantees that any critter who tastes this stuff will never come back for a second bite (contact me for the formula and directions.)

The other suggestion is to buy a ferret, or make friends with someone who owns a ferret and offer to babysit. 

Someone recently asked me how to keep deer away from his grapes and berries, and a friend of mine in Minnesota who operates a full time animal control business recommended electric fence about waist high around the patch. Jerry Baker takes that one step further and says to smear the fence with peanut butter. The smell of the peanut butter will cause them to  smell it or lick it, resulting in a zap to the snoot or tongue, and they will never return. 

Instead of washing or tossing your husband’s old smelly socks and sneakers, hang them around your truck patch. Jerry calls this a classic deer-chasing trick. 

We trappers use all manner of strange animal scents and smells, and Jerry says that urine from any major predator will send deer running. Coyote urine is readily available, and a little sprinkled around your garden will never be noticed by you, but the deer will surely flee. 

These are just a few of the more novel suggestions Jerry Baker has for keeping four-footed critters from ravaging your produce, and this book is just one of many he has published full of the same kind of down-home suggestions. Although there’s really nothing “Redneck” about any of these remedies as the title implies, I figured it might grab your attention and get you to read further, and if you’re reading this sentence, I’d say it worked. So eat well as you continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.

Steve Gilliland can be contacted by email at stevenrgilliland@gmail.com.

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