Tips and tricks for keeping garden critters at bay

As she browsed the outdoor aisles of 380 Auction in Murrysville, Plum resident Marilyn Covert lamented the loss of her homegrown tomatoes to a deer.

“They’re terrible,” she said of the deer, as she pushed her cart stacked with gardening supplies. “There’s nothing like a homegrown tomato.”

Covert uses deer repellent to keep her garden safe, but she and other gardeners still are plagued by garden pests attacking during the summer months.

The Sharpsburg Community Garden recently lost 100 crops to a groundhog invasion, and it isn’t the only garden to have suffered losses at the jaws of local wildlife.

Covert says she researched ways to keep critters from getting into her garden — and even found one home remedy that involved using human hair to ward off wildlife.

According to Matt Beacom, manager of 380 Auction, most customers prefer to go a more traditional route when it comes to garden protection: “Lots of people buy marigolds to keep rabbits away.”

Beacom also said lemon balm, which can be used to ward off cats and small insects, is a big-ticket item.

Deer repellent is popular, as many gardeners, including Covert, think it is the most effective way to keep larger animals from eating their produce.

Elizabeth Pesci, owner of the LeFevre Butterfly Garden in Greensburg, said she uses store-bought repellent to defend against deer and other animals.

“There is a serious deer problem in the area,” Pesci said.

She uses many protective measures to defend against wildlife. One is deer repellent, which is nontoxic to plants and humans, and Pesci said it can be made from scratch.

Some people dislike repellent because of the smell, which is reminiscent of rotten eggs, and the necessity to reapply the product to plants after every rainfall.

Deer repellent is available

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