Gardener's Grapevine 2015.07.22


This past week we had a sort of death in the family. Before you send sympathy cards, please read on. If you’ve been following my column you will know that when we had the great flood/rainstorm a few weeks back our corn patch took a huge hit, leaving us wondering if we would have sweet corn or any corn stalks to shock up for fall. Last week I noted that we would in fact have corn and shocks—it survived!

This past Wednesday Art came in with six beautiful ears of sweet corn which I put in the fridge for the next evening's supper. There is just something so very delicious about that first meal of corn on the cob. We discussed how we would eat the rest of it as there are just two of us. We decided to share some with the neighbors and freeze the rest.

Friday night Art checked and said Saturday we would pick the rest and take care of it as it was perfect. Apparently it was very perfect and there was an enormous party at our house Friday night that we were not invited to. Saturday Art came home from work at noon to pick the corn, only to find someone beat him to it—raccoons! While very comical to watch, they are devastating to sweet corn. There, in the first corn patch, was a pile of cobs with all the corn gone. The rascals stripped our corn and had a feast. R.I.P. you elongated source of tasty goodness.

We eagerly await their relatives arrival in two weeks with live traps and many other deterrents. Art went on a rodent rampage a few years ago with moles and now it’s raccoons. Warning to the unwise: Do not mess with a man’s source of food. Every woman knows this simple rule of thumb.

So what deterrents are there to keep raccoons out? From what I’ve read, raccoons know when corn is ready simply by the smell of the tassel. They gather all their clan and friends for a midnight party at your place. It is widely noted that the most effective method of keeping these critters out is an electric fence. Electric fences can be expensive if you need a large one, plus it takes many levels to be successful. You need one at two inches from the ground, one at six inches, and another at 12 inches. Even then a very crafty, hungry and acrobatic coon may still get in.

Planting squash,pumpkins and cucumbers amongst the corn stalks is recommended as one of the suggestions I read. Apparently the pokey vines are not pleasant for them to step on. They dislike dogs, so if you let your dog relieve itself around the plot, the coons will stay away. All I have to say is, good luck getting any dog to do that where you want them to.

Hook up a radio and play hard rock loudly. I bet the neighbors would love this option! Live trapping with relocating is okay if laws don’t prohibit it. Another suggestion is wrapping the ears with duct tape to prevent them from being opened. Seems to me the coons would just rip it down anyway. Last option? Buy your corn.

At present, Art is in his corn patch assessing the damage and cursing the coons.