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I decided to start a garden of my own this summer and I got seeds from all areas to plant. No sooner had I put the seeds in the ground, but there came some critter at night, which dug up the seeds and ate as much as it could find. I have never seen this vermin before but when I go to look in my garden in the morning, I find something has dug holes in my planters, and in some places uprooted some of my plants.

I have right now tried three netting sizes and think it may be best to take the plants all indoors for the meantime cause I don't seem to understand what it is I am up against. No matter what I put up against it, it not only keeps coming back but seems able to bypass them all. I am right now considering building a netting shed around my garden area but since I am new to work work, I expect this to take me some time. I intend to move my seedlings and other plants indoors until my netting is ready and tested. Does anyone know what this vermin could be, and what I do to get rid of it?

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    Seedlings, especially, are loved by rodents. I think that the most problems I've had were not insects, but rodents. Please send pictures of the damage, go out at night with a flashlight a few times. Send this information and we can help you. (Do you have outdoor cats? Do your neighbors? Put out some kitty food in your garden and solicit some help!) The main thing is to find out FOR SURE what is happening. Meanwhile, cover your plants, seedlings with row cloth...tuck it under the pots and soil. Play detective at night. Send pictures, we'd love to help. – stormy Jul 11 '14 at 2:16
  • I had done this for weeks and yet nothing. It is almost as if this critter is 'intelligent'. No matter what I put up, it finds a way around almost as if it is as big as a cat and as tiny as a mouse at the same time.lol – user272671 Jul 11 '14 at 15:39
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When I had this problem, the culprit was a family of meadow voles. The first thing you need to know when dealing with these:

The best way to deal with voles is some method of extermination.

I e, netting really doesn't work.

I've had success with traps, and because I live across from a meadow, I've had plenty of chances to use them. I am a little leery of baits/poisons, partly because of the local cat population, which may not relate to you, and partly because I had to pull up someones porch in order to remove some poisoned stench-bombs.

I usually use mouse traps, and have had excellent results. They like peanut buttered apples. I usually use at least six traps, and try to place them in obviously frequented places, where plants will not blow in the wind.

Update:

In response to:

I live on the second floor of an apartment not too far from downtown so I am even shocked that an animal like that could exist out here.

In that case, this is not voles. The only large critter that digs up and eats seeds two stories up are squirrels.

I am not certain the squirrels around here are that vicious as I am not sure squirrels like to dig around in the soil.

Um... squirrels love to dig around in the soil. They are always messing up my mulching jobs, and love to dig out tulips as well.

I did suspect a cat but I don't think cats are vegetarians cause the culprit seems to love going after my yams and no matter what I do, it continues to go for it as it destroys other things.

Cats don't dig for yams (but nice visual). These are not your problem.

I am against poison but I don't think traps will do good here given I have neighbors.

I have watched squirrels chew their way through netting, wire, wood siding, and various other barriers. Would you consider a small live trap (I use one door Havahart® traps with success)? These do not harm the squirrel, and you can release them into the wild (far away).

You can also use repellents. I've successfully used Hot Pepper Wax on garden plants, reapplying every week or so. My neighbor recently started using Shake Away fox urine powder, with very good results. Also, using more than one repellent can be useful, in case your particular squirrel doesn't mind one as much.

I just tried the hot pepper idea. I liquified about 30 harbenero peppers and put generous scoops of the liquid on my plants. I hope that deters the critters from wanting any of my plants or seeds. I also hope it does not kill my seeds/plants.

I don't know how long the Capsaicin (hot chemical in peppers) will last in a homemade mix. You may have to reapply frequently. That is one plus for the hot pepper wax, it is has concentrated levels of capsaicin in a wax spray, so it lingers for quite a while.

If you put your mixture on in a thin layer, you will be fine, but don't put it on so thick the plant looks less green, because that will cut photosynthesis.

Also, put something on the soil as well, to prevent digging.

  • I live on the second floor of an apartment not too far from downtown so I am even shocked that an animal like that could exist out here. I am not certain the squirrels around here are that vicious as I am not sure squirrels like to dig around in the soil. I did suspect a cat but I don't think cats are vegetarians cause the culprit seems to love going after my yams and no matter what I do, it continues to go for it as it destroys other things. I am against poison but I don't think traps will do good here given I have neighbors. lol – user272671 Jul 11 '14 at 4:48
  • Don't get me wrong, I did think of setting traps but if I catch something, what then? Do I call animal control to pick it up? I am new to these things so I would appreciate some tips on how best to go about it then. – user272671 Jul 11 '14 at 5:01
  • @user272671 There is a handle on top of the live trap, which means you can move the animal safely yourself. Putting A light cover over the trap will help calm the animal. – J. Musser Jul 11 '14 at 5:04
  • I just tried the hot pepper idea. I liquified about 30 harbenero peppers and put generous scoops of the liquid on my plants. I hope that deters the critters from wanting any of my plants or seeds. I also hope it does not kill my seeds/plants. – user272671 Jul 11 '14 at 15:11
  • @user272671 see updated answer. – J. Musser Jul 11 '14 at 22:30
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I had this exact problem this summer, when I moved from a third story balcony apartment to a rental house. (I was especially confused, because I have a dog who is a pretty aggressive rodent hunter.)

After consulting with the neighbors, I determined that it is a squirrel problem. Growing up I never saw squirrels doing this to our family vegetable garden, and we made no effort to prevent it. The fundamental difference I've noticed: bird feeders. I now live in an urban area with a lot of rental houses. It's obvious that the previous tenants were filling up a bird feeder in the back, and that the squirrels were the ones getting the seed. Now that those tenants are gone, their main source of food is gone, and they are getting desperate, digging up all kinds of things you wouldn't expect squirrels to care about.

I decided that, hey, I'm going to be here a year and my main concern is to preserve my garden, so I have started filling the feeder with peanuts, and so far I haven't had any new damage.

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    I in no way want to feed those critters. After the damage they have done, my only goal now is to inflict some kind of harm on them. It is almost mid july and I have nothing left of many of my plants. I have no love for them at all. – user272671 Jul 11 '14 at 15:12
  • @user272671 employ some realpolitik and focus on the most effective way to reach your goal: successful gardening. It probably involves setting aside your differences and making peace with the squirrels :) – Philip Jul 11 '14 at 15:28
  • Remember, when you've killed rodents, squirrels, rabbits, moles, voles...this will not solve your problem. There are plenty of animals to fill the void. I live with dozens of large, gray squirrels on our property as well as rodents, rabbits, deer, elk, huge ravens, feral cats. I grow everything in greenhouses. Otherwise, I feed these animals with garden refuse, hay for the deer and elk, kitchen refuse, my parrot's old seed, feed the feral cats and so far, we live in harmony. And I have two big dogs. Just their scent keeps critters away. – stormy Jul 11 '14 at 18:23

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