Mon, 27 Jan 2003 08:32:01 PST
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In a message dated 27-Jan-03 8:01:07 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

John ~

> . . . raccoons have decided that my bulbs in containers are good eating.  I 
> used a potting soil with a lot of organic matter and wonder if this 
> contributed to the attractiveness of the containers and that bulbs were 
> there was a secondary attraction. Could it be the raccoons could smell the 
> bulbs? I doubt this as they were, in the majority of cases, well below the 
> surface. Has anyone found soil mixes high in organic matter attracts such 
> beasts? I assume it is the soil mix as bulbs in their 2nd or 3 year in 
> different soil mixes were left alone. 
As a bulb grower, I'm not certain which I would prefer having to deal with -- 
if offered one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" choices!  I 
guess my vote would have to be with gophers; they're dumb enough to consume 
the bait!  Raccoons, on the other hand, are smart and difficult to deter and, 
certainly, once they've discovered something that with a little effort yields 
food.  Since (for omnivores), much food is found through random sampling, I 
suspect that what they may be after are earthworms (or some such) in the 
soil.  I'd warrant that what is attracting them is the loose soil.  Squirrels 
present the same problem, i.e., they will dig where the soil is loose and 
disturbed and not where the soil has been compacted with rain after a season. 
 Your best bet (if you can do it) is to lay sheets of 1/2" hardware cloth 
over the pots.

Years ago, in completing the landscaping around a new house in a semi-rural 
area, I sodded the areas between beds as I completed them.  Invariably, I was 
constantly having to deal with raccoons who would pull back the sod to get at 
the earthworms on the surface of the damp soil underneath each piece.  I 
solved the problem by buying bulk quantities of cayenne pepper and dusting 
the railroad tie dividers they were using as walkways to get from one level 
to another, as well as the surface of the sod.  It took a few days, but they 
ultimately left those areas alone.  That might be a fairly quick way to deal 
with them.  

Dave Karnstedt
Silverton, Oregon, USA
North Willamette Valley,
Maritime Mediterranean climate

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