September, and the sweet corn, safe and secure behind the garden fence is just a few days from brightening the table, dripping with butter and salt. Yes, your cardiologist is cringing, but sweet corn comes just once a year. Except…
It doesn’t. When you arrive at the garden, basket in hand, a guileless smile of anticipation on your face something is missing. The corn is missing! Oh the stalks are still there but they are broken halfway down and every single ear has been partially shucked and nibbled.
You’ve had visitors, clever, ring-tailed and appropriately masked visitors, a “nursery” of raccoons has stopped by. And they love sweet corn.
What can you do to prevent this? The fence won’t stop them, they sneer at predator scent repellants. Hang all the old CD’s from fishing line that you want; they will probably take them home and play them, while they eat sweet corn.
Oddly, not much else in your garden is of interest to raccoons unless there are berries growing inside, so the easiest way to keep them out is simply not to grow sweet corn or berries. The broccoli is completely safe.
But for corn lovers there are only 3 options. Live trap and relocate the raccoons, shoot or otherwise humanely euthanize the raccoons, or electrify the fence.
Relocating them would seem to be the best choice but here one is liable to run headlong into state law. Many states frown on citizens who arbitrarily move wildlife around and although apprehension is unlikely, it is best to know what the law holds in store before sending Mr. Raccoon on an extended vacation.
Professional pest control services are available to deal with these invaders but they usually cost more than the corn is worth.
Shooting, while effective is not possible in all cases and again may violate state laws or local ordinances, or may simply not be something that you wish to do. It should always be the last resort even when it is legal.
Electrifying the fence will certainly work, but it is costly. These costs may be mitigated by electrifying only the sweet corn patch itself, and by turning on the juice only a week or so before the corn is due to be picked.
A gardener really has two decisions to make when it comes to planting corn. The first, of course, is to decide on a variety to plant. The second is to decide how to keep it safe from furry thieves who want it as badly as the gardener does.
One last solution is to plant so much corn that there is enough for the hungriest of raccoons and the gardener and family as well.
Whichever course of action you decide upon, best of luck with your sweet corn!
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