It starts the moment the first spadeful of soil is turned. Every year, Maine gardeners are locked in a season-long battle with a variety of pests large and small intent on devouring whatever has been planted and is growing.
There are many methods of pest control available commercially but home-grown methods remain popular — and sometimes they even work. But those who believe in them don’t want to hear if they don’t.
These are some of the more unusual methods of pest control and how to try them.
Hair of the dog: The thinking here is that vegetable-eating rodents, small mammals and deer will smell the dog hair and bypass the garden. That’s because the dog fur will make them think there is a predator nearby.
To try this method, sprinkle the fur or hair around individual plants or stuff it into burlap sacks and place it around the perimeter of your garden to try it. If you don’t have your own dog to supply hair, check with a friend who has one or a local pet groomer who might be willing to give you some dog fur.
Human hair: There are gardeners who swear human hair will keep deer from browsing their gardens. The scent of humans will make the deer steer clear of the area.
To try this, you will need a steady supply of hair — perhaps from a barber shop or salon — as the scent does not last more than a week or two. To protect your entire garden, put the hair in nylon or burlap bags and line its perimeter. You can also sprinkle human hair around the base of individual plants to keep smaller mammals from digging them up.
Human or predator urine: This is along the lines of using fur or hair to keep pests away. At least one Maine gardener swears that deer have not been a problem since members of her family started urinating just outside the borders of their garden.
But it doesn’t have to be human urine to try this. There are several varieties of packaged predator urine available including wolf, coyote, fox and mountain lion. They can be ordered online and some garden supply stores carry them.
Slug control: With the ongoing wet conditions this summer in Maine, slugs have become a major pest in gardens and everyone seems to have a preferred method of dealing with them. Perhaps one of the most outside-the-box slug solutions involves using dead slugs to deal with the living ones. Slugs will feed on most decomposing organic matter — including their freshly killed brethren. By placing fresh slug corpses around your garden, it will draw out nearby slugs you may not see. Then you can collect and dispose of them.
While burying the crushed bodies of slugs several inches into the ground will add nutrients to your soil, some gardeners take it a step further by using household blenders to pulverize slugs and use the mash to add nutrients to the soil. If using that method, it’s a good idea to make that particular blender a single-use appliance.