Country Lore: February/March 2018

Readers’ tips about how to build a solar powered food dryer, a straw bale garden, how to deter unwanted garden critters, repurposing and upcycling projects, and more!

| February/March 2018

  • Sheet metal wrapped around peach tree trunk to stop squirrels.
    Photo by Kirk Miller
  • Using mint helps to keep odors at bay in the chick area.
    Photo by Sara Claypoole
  • Laura's broccoli stalks and squash grow healthy and tall in her straw bale garden.
    Photo by Laura MacEachern
  • Solar food dryer that utilizes summer heat and netting to keep out insects.
    Photo by Tracy Chaleff
  • Reuse old pain cans as flowerpots with a little ingenuity.
    Photo by Sharon Corish
  • A finch cage converted from a gun rack cabinet with a herringbone pattern made out of old fence pieces.
    Photo by Annie Schnackenberg

Baffling Squirrels

I finally found a way to thwart squirrels from stripping peaches from our peach tree. Placing netting over the tree didn’t work because the squirrels simply made a hole in the netting and took all the peaches before they even ripened. To keep the squirrels at bay, I needed a different approach.

First, I removed any branches that were low enough for squirrels to jump onto from the ground as well as any nearby objects that squirrels could jump from onto the tree. Then, I purchased a piece of sheet metal that was slightly wider than the circumference of the tree trunk, shortened its length from the ground to the lowest branch, and wrapped it around the trunk to make a metal baffle.

After installing the baffle, I watched squirrels on the ground circle the peach tree and stop periodically to assess how to get into the tree. They were positively baffled — pun intended. Squirrels still wreak havoc with our garden’s tomatoes, squash, and watermelons, but not with our peaches.

Kirk Miller
Richardson, Texas

Simple Advice for ‘Brown Thumb’ Gardeners

Does it really take a green thumb to be able to grow plants? No! It just requires knowing what the plants need. If plants are given a simulation of their natural habitat, they’ll adapt more easily and do what comes naturally.

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