Critters eating starts in the garden

Asked April 22, 2017, 2:41 PM EDT

Johns Community Garden.
We have some heavy damage to some plants. Some large kale (overwintered) plants are half eaten down, (over 15 inches tall) and a set of broccoli starts was demolished, leaving only the base stems. Later in the season, when the plants are bigger, we can tolerate some damage, but this is worse than we have had before. Sluggo has been used in the areas, and the damage does just not look like slug damage.

One of the gardeners has trapped 2 mice, and rabbits have been seen in the area. Ground squirrels were seen last year..

The WEB suggests some solutions to spray on the plants that have cayenne and/or soap. Also they suggest just spriinkling cayenne. Sprinkling cayenne has not worked for me in the past. Someone is trying to live trap the rabbit.

Do you have any suggestions?

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Thanks for your question about uninvited guests. What I can see in the online photos of your community garden are (1) lots of 'wild' spaced nearby, (2) no effective fencing and (3) a smorgasbord of food.

The problem is that you need to figure out what is eating your plants (define the problem) before you start using barriers, chemicals and potions (creating the solution.) And, without seeing the size of the teeth marks and/or tracks in the soil, in your 'wild' area, it is just a guess.

Here's a link to a very thorough article (with photos) on the numerous sizes and shapes of critters that need food this year. (Here's a link to a City of Portland article that tells you the creatures that the city knows are inhabitants. I've personally seen rats--lots of rats--in a compost pile on N.E. Glisan in Gresham.) Pepper doesn't phase many animals. Only strong, high, deeply planted fences may--and then only if no absent-minded gardener leaves the gate open. And they may already have burrows within the 4 sides of your garden.

I wish the answer were easier, but you need more information. I hope these references help.

Good luck!