Q. Dear Twig: Every spring we plant sweet corn in our garden. And every summer, right before we pick it, it gets eaten up by raccoons. What can we do?
A. Two things: One, try an electric fence. Get a solar or plug-in fence charger. Set up one or two "hot" wires — the ones that give a zap — all around the garden, or at least around the corn patch. Turn the charger on at dusk and off at dawn.
If a raccoon tries to get into the garden, which it will normally do only at night, it touches the fence, gets a quick zap, gets scared but not hurt and runs away. Raccoons can climb over regular fences.
Two, try glass-yarn-reinforced strapping tape. Strap each ear to the stalk with the tape. The raccoon, unless it has scissors in its backpack, can't pry the ear loose! Try this if you have a small garden or if you don't want to bother with an electric fence.
This comes from Amanda Rodewald, an Ohio State wildlife scientist. "Changing your level of tolerance," she notes, "is sometimes the easiest solution."
P.S. Read more in an Ohio State fact sheet at http://ohioline.osu.edu/w-fact/0007.html.
Notes: The fact sheet mentioned, "Preventing and Managing Raccoon Problems," W-7-2001, was written by Professor Rodewald and published by OSU Extension. If you don't have access to a computer and/or the Internet, try your county Extension office if you live in Ohio or, if you don't, call (614) 292-1607. Thanks to Mike K. for this week's question!
About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level typically rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 263-3776. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.