SHTF Pest Control!

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SHTF Pest Control!

SHTF Pest Control
Micheal Kline “Reality Check” Audio player below!

I do not know of a single human on this planet who enjoys mosquitoes, ticks, roaches, or creepy crawlies. Barring the entomologist in the world, being outside with bugs can mess up a perfect camping trip. Fortunately, there are many options to spray around and life is good. However, in a grid down scenario, we will not have the luxury of heading to the local big box and getting a new can of mosquito, roach, or wasp spray.

Continue reading SHTF Pest Control! at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pest Control in the Garden

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The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pest Control in the Garden When you read a title like this sometimes you think you are going to get a concoction to spray on all of your plants and all of your bugs to keep them away. The truth is you should have an understanding of what types of …

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The post The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pest Control in the Garden appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

5+1 Organic Remedies For Your Spring Garden

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It’s almost that time of year again – time to set out your plants and get that beautiful garden growing! But, one of the biggest problems that many of us face is that we grow our own food to avoid chemicals, but we need fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to really get the most out of our labor.

Don’t worry – there are excellent organic options to help your garden grow.

Read the article below to discover them!

Seeds

You’re not going to grow anything of quality if you don’t start with good seeds. It’s easy to go the cheap route and buy seeds at the dollar store, but do your research. This isn’t the place that you want to skimp because if you do it right, you’ll only have to buy seeds once because next year, you’ll use ones that you harvest from your own crop.

Now, you’ve likely heard of GMO, which stands for “genetically modified organism.” Scientists literally modify the DNA of the plant to make it “better.” Of course, we know that actually means, “more profitable,” not “more healthy.”

Because science tinkered with the natural structure of the plant, the seeds are unreliable. You may get great results by replanting them, or none of them may grow. Besides, GMO have been linked to several different illnesses. Skip them.

You want to go with heirloom seeds because they’ve been carefully cultivated from one type of plant for generations. They’re reliable and safe. To learn more about the different types of seeds, check out this article.

These lessons of yesterday will teach you the basic skills for survival cooking! 

Organic Fertilizer

In the event SHTF, you might not be able to run down to the garden center and pick up a bag of Miracle Gro. Why would you want to even when you can? You can make your own fertilizer at home that’s every bit as good as the store-bought stuff, and you know exactly what’s in it.

But what if your tomato plants grow just fine? I’ll be rude and answer a question with a question. How do you know that they’re growing fine? Sure, they may be growing and producing, but here’s the thing – our soil is depleted.

That means that what passes for a tomato today likely only has a fraction of the nutrients that it had 100 years ago. Too many seasons of constant planting without a break has sucked all the nutrients out of the soil, and if there’s none in the soil, well, there’s none in the plant.

So you need fertilizer. Your compost is going to be a huge part of that, but you can also add nutrients in other ways, such as by mixing Epsom salt around your tomatoes and peppers or by mixing a bit of diluted vinegar in if your soil isn’t acidic enough. Check out this article for more tips for fertilizer, but don’t skip it, whatever you do!

Video first seen on GrowVeg

Compost

This is probably the most proactive step you can take for a healthy garden, but to do it right, you’re going to need to do it right. You can put many things, from food scraps to paper and ash in it, but there are definitely some no-nos.

Now, before you start saying that you can’t have a compost pile because you don’t have a big enough area, let me stop you because you only need an area the size of a bin to have a compost pile … err, bin.

Oh, and you can have liquid manure compost – aka manure tea – too. It’s exceptionally good for plants that require extra nitrogen. Manure tea is exactly what it sounds like – manure that’s been steeped in water. It’s a bit involved and takes some time, but it’s well worth the end result. It’s especially good for plants with deep roots.

Herbicides

Oh, those nasty weeds. Of course, if you’re container gardening, it’s not such a hassle, but if you have a traditional garden, it’s a real pain, literally and figuratively. And if you opt to use commercial herbicides, you’re often defeating one of the purposes of growing your own garden  by using chemicals on your food.

Fortunately, you have many natural options that will work just as well as harmful chemicals. First, mulch is an excellent idea for several reasons. It helps keep the weeds to a minimum, it holds the moisture in the soil, and it acts as a natural fertilizer when it breaks down. That’s assuming you make your own mulch, which is cheap (or free), or buy organic mulch, which is NOT cheap or free.

Another option that isn’t exactly an herbicide but works as well as one is to use landscape fabric, which you can also make yourself from recycled sheets, feed sacks, etc. Or, you can buy it. It prevents weeds from growing by blocking out the sunlight. A natural result of this is that it helps hold moisture in the soil as well.

Boiling water works, too. It’ll kill a weed quick, but this isn’t particularly effective if you’re treating your entire garden.

Borax, bleach, vinegar, and salt water are also effective herbicides though you may need to repeat the process. Add a little liquid dish detergent to each for an extra boost. Be sure to spray these only on the leaves of the plants that you want to kill because none of them discriminate.

Be careful not to saturate the soil because all of them alter the pH and can have catastrophic effects on your plants.

Video first seen on Grow Your Heirlooms

Insecticides

This is the big bad of the chemicals that most people consider necessary to growing a healthy, productive garden. And it’s true – nothing will wipe out a garden faster that a horde of hungry aphids, beetles, or other flying or crawling creatures.

Fortunately, you have options here, too, and some of them, such as dish detergent, serve double duty and kill weeds, too.

Neem is probably the most effective. It’s been used for centuries and has more than 50 natural insecticides. Since it’s safe for you, your pets, and your plants, you can use it without worrying about damage. The only problem is that the bug has to actually eat the plant to die, so if you have an infestation of something, you may have some losses before you win the battle.

Himalayan salt kills spider mites. Just mix 2 Tbsp. of salt in 1 gallon of water and mist onto infested areas.

Chrysanthemum flower spray is lethal to insects because it paralyzes their nervous systems and immobilizes them. Just boil 3.5 ounces of flowers with a liter of water into a tea and spray directly on the plant. The spray stores for up to 2 months. Add some neem oil to give it an extra boost.

I call this the pizza spray – it’s made of 1 clove minced garlic, 1 medium sliced onion, and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Add them to a quart of water and let it soak for an hour. You don’t want to cook it; just let it soak. Add a tablespoon of liquid soap and spray directly onto the plant. This will stay potent for a week or better in the fridge.

Grind a couple of handfuls of dried chilis and add to a cup of diatomaceous Earth, then add 2 liters of water. Let it soak overnight, then shake it up and apply.

Other natural pesticides include orange oil, citrus oil. Eucalyptus oil, soap, and mineral oil. Dilute them with water and spray directly onto the plant.

Note that, with the exception of the soap, all of these concoctions are drinkable (though I don’t imagine that you’d want to) so you’re not going to poison yourself.

Critters

Bunnies and deers are really cute until you find them eating your carrots and corn. Then, not so much. As a matter of fact, so may say that they’d look delicious on  a plate side-by-side with said veggies after they’re busted dining on your labors.

I once lost an entire crop of cherries overnight because apparently the birds had been waiting for them to be perfect just as I had, but they were up earlier than I was. Two words – bird netting.

But, they do have minds of their own and aren’t easily deterred. Some good ideas that may help you keep from feeding the neighborhood wildlife instead of saving it all for yourself are as follows:

Marigolds. Rabbits, deer, and other wildlife hate the smell of them so plant them around your perimeter. You can also build chicken wire fences around your garden, or around the plants that you’re worried about.

Raccoons and some other animals hate the smell of Epsom salt – which, by the way, isn’t a salt so it won’t kill your plants. Just sprinkle it around the perimeter of the garden. It also increases the magnesium in your soil, so your plants may thank you.

Solar motion-activated lights may help scare them off, especially if you relocate them regularly so that the animals don’t get used to them.

Finally, you can cover your plants at night using tulle netting – that gauzy stuff that a bride’s veil is made of. For that matter, if you’re only covering it at night, you can use light sheets or other fabric that won’t break the plants.

We’ve covered most of the ways that you can grow a healthy, delicious garden without worrying about chemicals leeching into your foods. Plus, most of these suggestions are free or super cheap, so it’s a win in all directions!

Do you wonder what are the secrets that helped our grandparents grow their own food to survive during harsh times?

Click the banner bellow and uncover them!

If you have any more ideas about organic remedies to keep your survival garden healthy, share them in the comments section below. Happy gardening!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Invasion of the Pests!

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Invasion of the Pests! James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! There are lots of terrifying scenarios that come to mind when you mention a post-apocalyptic scenario. Most of this is based on the vicious behavior of the human animal. When we talk about home invasion, riots and murder these are all threats … Continue reading Invasion of the Pests!

The post Invasion of the Pests! appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

DIY Simple Soda Bottle Mousetrap

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DIY Simple Soda Bottle Mousetrap DIY pest control is a great way to save money, and may even be a necessity if professional pest control is out of reach. Store bought poison or natural repellents work especially well for a lot of pests, but poison can be dangerous to your family and natural options don’t …

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The post DIY Simple Soda Bottle Mousetrap appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Got Mosquito Problems? Here’s an Easy Way to Wipe Them Out

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mosquitoMosquitoes and the diseases they carry have been in the news quite a bit lately. Everyone has been talking about the Zika virus and the tremendous health consequences it causes. But truth be told, Zika is just a drop in the bucket. Mosquitoes have been killings millions of people with dozens of different diseases since the beginning of human history. In that regard, they are technically the most dangerous animal on the planet.

Still, it’s difficult to ignore the impending threat of Zika. Most of the US is relatively free of the worst diseases that mosquitoes carry; diseases that frequently ravage the developing world. And unfortunately that may be about to change. This virus is spreading fast, and is expected to proliferate throughout much of the United States in the near future.

So what can you do to control these disease ridden creatures? Heck, even without the threat of being infected, you’d probably be willing to try anything to get rid of any mosquitoes on your property. They’re already a nuisance, even when they don’t make you sick.

There’s a new method you can utilize that was recently developed by a Canadian professor by the name of Gérard Ulíbarri. It works by turning the mosquito’s favorite breeding ground into a trap. That breeding ground is of course, the humble car tire. When left outside and filled with rainwater, tires are known to attract mosquitoes for reasons that aren’t exactly clear. It’s believed that the heat retention qualities of rubber may be to blame, or perhaps the tires give off a scent that is irresistible to these creatures.

Whatever the case may be, mosquitoes love laying their eggs in wet tires more than anywhere else, and there’s a way you can use that against them. It’s called the ovillantas, and it looks like this:

ovillantes

It’s an attractive breeding ground for sure. It’s filled with water in the bottom half where they can lay their eggs, but is still covered to protect them. About once every three days to a week, you drain the water into a container covered in fabric, so that the eggs and larvae can be separated and killed. You pour the water back into the device, since it is now filled with pheromones that will attract more mosquitoes.

So just how effective is it? After testing it in Guatemala, Professor Ulíbarri found that it was 7 times more effective than traditional mosquito traps. If this sounds like it’s right up your alley, here’s how you can make the ovillantas yourself.

One thing to keep in mind, is that much of this process can be done without power tools if they’re not available to you. You can wing it with a knife or a boxcutter, but obviously it will take longer, and will be a heck of a lot harder.

There will likely be a bundle of steel wires running along both of the inner edges of the tire, which can be cut away before you cut the tire in half. If you have the stamina and patience for it, you can do the rest of the cutting without power tools. But like they say in the video, this can be done without cutting the tire in half. Just so long as you can cut a hole for the valve, it will still work fairly well.

Unfortunately, most tires in the United States have a belt of steel wires running just under the tread. This belt is nearly impossible to cut through even with power tools, and in all likelihood will damage whatever blade you’re using. However, the steel belt doesn’t run along the walls of the tire, only under the tread. I’m willing to bet that you can place the water valve on the side of the tire instead of beneath it.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Simple Ant Control for Your Home

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Ants in Your Home?

I can sympathize with Suzette M., who wrote in about trying to free her raised beds of fire ants.  I had normal black ants a in a bed of mine a few years ago, and I ended up just ignoring the bed for the rest of the season.

If that happened to me today, I would try the same Ant Juice that works so well inside my house.

My brother is very health conscious, and he wanted a way to get rid of ants inside the house without risk to his pets.  He found a recipe for simple ant control, and he shared it with me.

My Recipe for Simple Ant Control

Borax Ant Juice Recipe
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar (yes, there is a good use for regular yucky white sugar)
2 Tbsp borax
2 drops food coloring (optional)

Borax is a traditional detergent that your grandmother used.  You can buy it at big box stores in the laundry section.

Now comes the fun part.  I dip a bit of cotton in the ant juice and put it in a bottle cap near where I see ants.  When I come back 30 minutes later, the ants have found the juice and are literally lining up to get a swig of poison.

Where before there were ants wandering aimlessly across your bathroom counter, now there are many more ants, all excited and efficient about getting their fair share of the delicious poison.

Find more options: Natural Fire Ant Control

Set It Up and Say Goodbye

After more time passes, the area is completely free of ants.  Where do they go?  Where do they take the bodies?  These are mysteries.

The reason for the food coloring is that it makes it easy for you to see if they have sucked up all of the juice out of the cotton, in which case you need to give them a refill.

I don’t know if fire ants will like this, or if it will have the same clearing effect as it has for my house ants, but I have my bottle of borax ant juice all ready, and that will be the first thing I try next time I see ants in my garden.  If it looks like rain, I may put the cotton ball inside a glass jar on it’s side to make sure the rain doesn’t wash it away.

Make up a batch of ant juice.  Even if it only works in the house, it is very entertaining.

marjory-wildcraft-how-much-land-do-you-need


Thanks to Donna Manley for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We’re still getting the list of prizes lined up for the Spring 2016 Writing Contest. We awarded over $2,097 in prizes for the Fall Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

The post Simple Ant Control for Your Home appeared first on The Grow Network.

Natural Fire Ant Control

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Taking Back Your Garden

We got an urgent plea the other day from Suzette M. about some new raised beds she built recently.  As soon as the beds were finished, fire ants moved in and took over the area.

If you don’t have fire ants in your area, count your blessings.  The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) is a worthy adversary.  They really suck.  OK, they don’t actually suck.  But they do bite and sting – and that sucks.

While they usually seem like more of a nuisance than a real problem, they can actually do some real damage.  They’re a health hazard for babies and people with limited mobility.  And they’re a major pain in the ass for drunk people all across the southern United States.  All kidding aside, these ants are a foreign invasive pest that’s causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages each year.

We shared Suzette’s plea with the Grow Network last week, and we got a whole flurry of good ideas, from all across the map.

Invasion of the Ants

Even if you haven’t had fire ants in your area in the past, there’s a chance that they’ll be setting up shop in your garden bed before too long – depending on where you live.  Red imported fire ants have been in the US for almost a century – and their range has always topped out around the 35th parallel north or so.

But there’s been speculation for the past several years that the range of fire ants will increase as temperatures rise.  They put together this map that shows potential areas for new infestation.  Heads up Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky and Virginia – you might be next!

USDA map of potential fire ant invasion

This USDA map predicts areas in the United States that are susceptible to invasion by the red imported fire ant.

map legend

 

But lucky for you all, the range of these ants doesn’t depend entirely on the temperature.  There are a whole slew of factors in play, including rainfall, and the prevalence of established colonies of other ants.

Natural Fire Ant Control

There are a lot of “home remedies” for fire ants floating around on the internet.  And we got a few of these suggestions in from readers who swear they’ve worked.  However, we decided to err on the side of caution, and not recommend grits, club soda, or baking soda.  There’s actually a fair amount of research going on in this area right now (because of the financial impact of the ants), and these home remedies have been tested recently by scientists – they just don’t seem to work.

Burning the mound, or dousing it with gas, is a bad idea.  It probably won’t work, it’s toxic to the soil and the water supply, and it’s illegal in many areas for one reason or another.

Orange Oil and Soap

Cindy V. says she drenches the mounds with orange oil.  A recent study from the Extension at Texas A&M confirms that this is a good solution.  They used 1.5 fl oz Medina® Orange Oil and 3 fl oz Dawn® soap, diluted in one gallon of water; and they dumped one gallon of dilution on each mound.  They found this soil drench to be more effective on fire ants than a leading organic insecticide product.

Jim R. said he endorses Malcolm Beck’s Anti Feugo® product, sold through Garden-Ville.  And orange oil is listed as the second ingredient on the label.

Diatomaceous Earth

Michael R. and Phyllis P. wrote in to say that they’ve had success using diatomaceous earth to control fire ants.

Diatomaceous earth is too small to cut our skin, but it’s the perfect size to cut through little insect bodies.  For an ant, walking across DE is like walking across a field of broken glass – they bleed out and die of dehydration.  This has been proven to work on fire ants, but it’s hard to reach the queen with DE.  And you need to kill the queen to kill the mound.

Ed B. says he has used DE to kill the entire mound by first opening up the mound with a shovel, stirring up the interior of the mound, and then applying the DE to the stirred mound.

Read more: How to Use Diatomaceous Earth Safely in the Home, Garden, and More

Spinosad Bait

Several folks – including Willie P. in Houston and Levi L. in Alabama – said they have had great success using commercial baits containing the poison Spinosad™.  Spinosad is a poison that kills bugs.  It’s an organic product, derived through bacterial fermentation.  It’s listed with OMRI, and it’s considered safe to use in vegetable gardens within one day of harvest.

It is, of course, still a poison.  Spinosad ant baits should only be used sparingly, when necessary, in the immediate area around the mound.  Spinosad breaks down quickly in sunlight, but in the shade it can last a long time.  It’s also toxic to other insects (especially bees), birds, fish, and lots of other things – so please use it with care.

Two-Step Approach

The most popular organic solution offered by the research community is called the two-step approach.  Step 1 is to use a bait.  Step 2 is to use a drench.

More Information

If you have a question that isn’t covered here, I would recommend checking out Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project.  It looks like they have a full team working around the clock on this – they’ve already built up a library of more than 50 information sheets.  Identification, treating animals, flooding, vegetable gardens, electrical equipment, and more.  If you have a question about fire ants, you can probably find some helpful information here.

Keep in mind – as with many extension publications – you’re going to see some synthetic chemical insecticides mentioned in the discussion.  Please don’t use any of those.  And if you do, be careful not to allow any of them near your vegetable gardens, orchards, etc.  If you keep reading, you’ll find that the extension also provide some organic solutions and even some natural solutions.  And, as you know, the best solution is often the mildest solution.

marjory-wildcraft-how-much-land-do-you-need


 

Sources:

1: Ants and Electrical Equipment – http://articles.extension.org/pages/30057/ants-and-electrical-equipment
2: Potential United States Range Expansion of the Invasive Fire Ant – http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/docs.htm?docid=9165
3: Evaluation of organic individual mound drench treatments for red imported fire ants – http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/organic/files/2011/03/Kim-Schofield-fire-ant-control.pdf
4: Material Fact Sheet: Spinosad – http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/newsevents/events/2010/sosa2010/20101013tomato/product13-spinosad.pdf
5: Managing Fire Ants in Vegetable Gardens – http://fireant.tamu.edu/files/2014/03/ENTO_015.pdf
6: Are there any home remedies that will kill fire ants? – https://articles.extension.org/pages/34814/are-there-any-home-remedies-that-will-kill-fire-ants
7: Natural, Organic, and Alternative Methods for Imported Fire Ant Management – http://fireant.tamu.edu/files/2014/03/ENTO_009.pdf

The post Natural Fire Ant Control appeared first on The Grow Network.

How To Protect Your Garden: DIY Smoke Bombs

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DIY SMOKE BOMBS

Insects such as mosquitoes and flies carry diseases by biting an infected host, then biting you. West Nile virus has been an issue for years, and now the new Zika virus is spreading through Florida and other states thanks to infected mosquitoes. Rats also carry diseases such as rabies as do opossums.

Pests such as moles and groundhogs dig holes in your pasture and either eat the beneficial bugs in the dirt or cause holes that can break the legs of livestock. Bugs eat your leaves and birds eat your berries and cherries. That’s just not acceptable after all of your hard work!

All of these issues can be serious now. But if SHTF, these critters can each be lethal in their own way. And so are the bigger predators that attack your crops.

Figure out now how to deal with these pests in ways that don’t depend upon calling for help. Though there are numerous effective methods for getting rid of pests, smoke has been used for centuries for a variety of pest control situations and it’s basically a free commodity that’s easy to access. That’s why you need to know how to DIY smoke bombs.

There are actually smoke bombs available commercially for very little money but, as a prepper, you probably want to know how to build your own. That’s what we’re going to discuss today.

Where There’s One Up, There’s One Down

Smoke bombs are more effective as repellents than as a means to permanently get rid of pests; by its very nature, smoke is temporary and, unless it’s released in a small, confined area, it’s rarely lethal. A perfect example of this is the use of citronella candles in the evenings to keep away mosquitoes. The smoke and the smell of citronella act together to repel insects.

Even if smoke does kill, you’re stuck with dead critters under your porch or whatever space it is that you’ve smoked. Definitely not what you want, so it’s best to use other methods if you want to kill the pests.

Smoke can, however, be a good tool to use to smoke them out if you just want to get the rats out of the shed, the squirrels out of the attic, or the groundhogs from under the porch. It’s also a good method to get rid of bugs that may be eating your trees or birds that want to pick your cherries at exactly the right moment, an hour before you do!

Building smoke bombs can be tricky because of the obvious risk of fire. As we all know, where there’s one, there’s the other and your goal is to get the rats out of the shed, not to burn the shed down altogether! That being said, there are still a couple of ways that you can use smoke to clear out pests.

Rule Number 1 when it comes to smoking out pests is that you should NEVER  do it inside, or use smoke bombs on furniture or anything flammable or valuable that you don’t want to smell like the bomb.

Rule Number 2 is that there are probably better ways to deal with most infestations than using smoke bombs, unless you’re just trying to temporarily chase away the pest. They only work as long as the smoke exists. As soon as the smoke is gone, the pests will likely reappear. That’s fine if you’re just trying to deter bugs while you’re outside, get a hive of bees to quiet long enough to get the honey, or want to get the critters out from under the shed, so don’t get me wrong. Just don’t expect the smoke bombs to cure your pest invasion permanently.

Why NOT to Build a Smoke Bomb Using Ping Pong Balls

Yup, that’s right. Ping pong balls. If you think about it, they seem to be the perfect container for such things. They’re lightweight, easy to drill a hole in, and are hollow. Ping pong balls are one of those multi-purpose items that you should probably have around the house anyway, so of course people have found a way to make a smoke bomb with them.

Here’s the problem: you’re burning PVC, which is extremely toxic. Also, the bombs are unstable. Even using the same method, one may make smoke while another will burst into flames. But, you may say, you’re trying to kill pests, right? Yes, but there’s no reason to give yourself cancer or burn your barn down while you’re doing it. Skip it, no matter how easy it seems to be.

How to Make a Smoke Bomb that Won’t Kill You

Recipe 1: Basic DIY Smoke Bomb

Basically, all you need is a tube, a wick, and a couple of ingredients that are easy to obtain: wooden matchsticks or candle wicks for the fuse, a toilet paper or paper towel roll, potassium nitrate (aka saltpeter) and sugar.

  • Combine the saltpeter and sugar in a skillet over low heat using about 3 parts saltpeter to 2 parts sugar. (You can adjust this ratio if you want, to meet your needs. More sugar makes for a smoke bomb that’s harder to light and burns slower. More saltpeter makes for a smoke bomb that burns faster.)
  • Stir the mixture over low heat until it liquefies and becomes a caramel color. Be careful not to burn it!
  • Pour the mixture onto aluminum foil in puddles about 3 inches or so around. Allow to cool.
  • Peel off of aluminum foil and roll it up around the fuse, leaving an end sticking out to light.
  • Cut the toilet paper roll in half. Line the inside with aluminum foil so that the roll doesn’t catch on fire when you light the fuse. Place the sugar mixture inside of it, with the fuse sticking out of one end.
  • Pinch that end of the tube almost closed around the fuse but leave enough of an opening that the fuse will burn down to the sugar mixture, and pinch the other end into a funnel that will allow the smoke to escape.

To smoke the pests, find the holes that the moles or groundhogs are occupying. Place one smoke bomb in each hole, piling the dirt around the bomb but making sure that the inside end of the bomb is inside the hole and not stuck in the dirt. Light the fuse, making sure that the sugar mixture catches before walking away. You don’t strictly need a fuse; you can actually leave a bit of the sugar mixture sticking out of the end of the roll if you’d like.

A non-cooking alternative to this is to combine the sugar and saltpeter in a small paper or plastic cup and add just enough water to make it a paste. Stick the fuse in, then allow to sit for a couple of days until the mixture is completely dry. Follow the rest of the directions above. This also works for sheds, etc. Just be sure to set the smoke bomb on something non-flammable and leave room above it so that, just in case it catches on fire, you don’t burn the building down.

Recipe 2: Aluminum Nitrate Smoke Bomb

This one’s easy, too. Aluminum nitrate is the granules found inside of a cold pack.

  • Simply cut the cold pack open and pour the granules into a container.
  • Add just enough water to the granules to dissolve them: don’t use any more water than you have to.
  • Dip a rolled-up piece of newspaper into the solution and allow it to absorb the water.
  • Remove and tie it up with some string, then allow to dry thoroughly.

You can use this smoke bomb as-is or put it in the aluminum foil-lined roll as described above. Light it and you have a smoke bomb!

Video first seen on Makabra203.

Other Ideas for DIY Smoke Bombs

I’ve also heard of using eggshells to hold the smoke bombs – just poke a small hole in one end and a larger one in the rounder end of the egg, blow the egg out of the shell, then use a funnel to put the bomb ingredients in. Put the fuse in the smaller end before you put the bomb ingredients in the other.

Video first seen on Rex Patrick.

If you simply want to get rid of insects or birds temporarily, say for an outdoor gathering or to keep them away from your tree until you can pick the berries, simply light a bonfire with the size based on the area that you want to keep pest-free. Make it big enough to produce enough smoke to encompass the area but not so big that the fire gets out of control.

Citronella candles in a bucket are always good for camping if you’re trying to repel mosquitoes and flies. Just set a few of them around the site.

Any time that you do an outside burn, you need to monitor it closely. This includes the bombs described above that you’re using for the mole or groundhog holes. Make sure it’s completely out before walking away from it.

Now that you have a few ideas about how to build smoke bombs, go to it. Remember that smoke bombs aren’t a permanent solution; they’ll only smoke the critters out temporarily.

But you still need them! And remember that these critters are not the only menace for your homestead: bigger predators are aiming to hijack your food reserve. Click on the banner below to find out more!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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6 Wild Birds You Should Attract To Your Homestead

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Birds HomesteadMost of us don’t give much thought to birds except to notice that they’re pretty or that they sing sweetly, or that they sing at 6 am on a Saturday morning when we’re trying to sleep in!

However, birds can be hugely useful on a farm, or they can be extremely harmful. There are several birds that you want to attract to your homestead, and that’s what we’re talking about today.

How useful or harmful birds are to a homestead or farm depends almost entirely on what they eat! You want to attract birds that eat plant-eating bugs or other pests around the farm. The problem here is that, if you eliminate their natural food source, birds will turn to other foods, such as your blackberries, as a food source. As you can see, this is a delicate balance.

On that note, though, there are some birds that only turn to vegetation if they have absolutely no other choice, so those are the birds that you want to attract. These birds serve two purposes, because many of them do hang around in the winter and will eat the bugs that eat your plants in the summer and will eat the seeds of weeds in the winter when there are no bugs to eat.

Win-win! You get rid of your pesky bugs in the summer and weeds won’t have a chance to grow in the spring because the seeds were eaten over the winter.

1. Eastern Bluebirds

We all love to see the bluebirds flitting about in the trees, but they’re also great to have around the farm because their diet consists nearly completely of bugs, primarily beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. They also eat spiders and other bugs.

Bluebirds are found in about every state east of the Rockies, and in Canada. They also winter as far north as Illinois and Pennsylvania so they’re often around in the winter even though they’re seen as harbingers of spring.

eastern bluebird

In absence of bugs, there are plants that they’ll turn to, which you can use to attract them to the farm. These include: Blackberries, chokeberries, juniper berries, partridgeberries, Virginia creeper, bittersweet, pokeberries, strawberry bush, false spikenard, wild sarsaparilla, sorrel, asparagus, rose haws, holly, sorrel, greenbrier, and ragweed.

You can also build small boxes in nooks and crannies such as cavities in trees or in tight places in barns or buildings.

2. Western Bluebirds

These birds, found west of the Rockies, are much like their Eastern cousins except they eat even more harmful bugs, and the bugs that they eat are often available year round. They’ll turn to elderberries most frequently if the bugs disappear so that’s what you should plant to attract them.

western bluebird

3. Swallows

There are seven common types of swallows including barn swallows, cliff swallows, martins, and white-bellied swallows, also known as tree swallows. These four types have taken almost exclusively to living in structures instead of in their natural habitats and eat a diet high in beetles, flying ants, mosquitoes and other “pest” insects.

To attract them, build boxes in the corners of your barn eves, under the outside eves, or in other high places.

swallow

Barn swallows can be enticed by cutting small holes in the gable of the barn, and all of them like to have a bit of mud available to use as mortar for their nests.

4. Meadowlarks

These cute little birds are murderous to the enemies of your garden, making them wonderful inhabitants of your homestead. They eat beetles (including the disaster-causing May beetles), grasshoppers, caterpillars, flies, wasps, and spiders.

In the winter, more than half of the meadowlark’s diet consists of weeds, grains and other seeds, but this is found almost exclusively in winter, when they’re eating waste seeds and kernels, rather than crops.

western meadowlark

5. Phoebes

There are two types of phoebes: the common phoebe which is found throughout the US east of the Great Plains, and the black phoebe, which is found west of the Great Plains. They prefer to winter fairly far south but migrate north in early spring.

The phoebe eats insects almost exclusively, and most of those are caught in flight. In other words, mosquitoes, click beetles, May beetles and weevils are some of the phoebe’s favorite snacks.

phoebe

Phoebes love water and open spaces so if you have a shed near a creek, pond or water trough that would be a good place to place a small box to attract them. They prefer the openness though, and just having a shed or a bridge is attractive to them.

6. Barn Owls

Who? You! Do what you can to attract barn owls because they eat all kinds of nasty bugs and rodents. They’re mighty hunters and will do wonders for keeping the rat population down, as well as that of the gophers, moles and other small pests that deteriorate your soil or spread disease.

Owls are also pretty to look at, even though there are many superstitions about them. One of those superstitions that you can believe beyond a shadow of a doubt is that if you see an owl on your farm, you’re in luck because your rodent population is about to go down!

owl

Barn owls used to be attracted by the inner structure of wooden barns but since many modern barns are metal, they’re turning away from them. Fallen trees are another favorite roosting place for owls, but we tend to take care of our properties by removing these as they fall or die.

Because owl feces may be contaminated with salmonella, you want to build barn owl boxes on the outside of the barn facing away from where food and livestock are kept.

We underestimate the value of birds. They look pretty and they may sound sweet or cheerful, but very few people consider how useful they are. If you’re looking for natural ways to get rid of the pests and rodents that damage your soil, eat your plants or otherwise destroy your efforts to raise food, then birds should be your first line of defense.

The birds that we’ve discussed are just a handful of many breeds that are great to have around, but these are birds that are easy to attract, are found throughout most of the United States, and do the most good on a homestead or farm.

Just as there are birds that will help your farm, there are birds that are not-so-helpful. Some are just as hazardous as many of the bugs and rodents that the birds on this page eat, so be careful which types of birds you attract. Just because he’s pretty doesn’t mean that he’s good for your farm!

If you’d like to add a bird to this list, or have something else that you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Learning to Homestead as a Beginner

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The Buffet is Closed!

Five years ago, when we decided we needed to get really serious about gardening and raising more of our own food, we didn’t realize how much of a hurdle we were facing. Both our lack of knowledge and skills, plus where we planned on doing this, have turned out to make us a bit of a cautionary tale for any one else.

The first questionable decision we made was deciding that our lake home property, located in northern Minnesota, was where we should dig in, so to speak. We owned the land. It sloped to the south, what else did we need to consider, right?

Choose Your Site Carefully

Maybe we should have considered the fact that we are over half way to the North Pole, and that 10,000 years ago the entire area was under 2000 feet of glacial ice. Maybe we should have considered that in Texas you can start planting around Valentines Day, and where we live we are not safe until Mothers Day. Or that our short growing season is coupled with some pretty lousy top soil, which is underlaid with sand and rocks which can often be as big as your head.

Ah, but we were old and stupid, a potentially lethal combination, so we forged ahead. Our county has 100s of failed farms from the 1920s and beyond, but our 8000 square feet would be special. Did I forget to mention that we actually live 150 miles south of our plot in paradise, and that we often have to travel for work; sometimes leaving for several weeks at a time?

A Weedy Beginning

One advantage we did have was that we had the resources to invest in this utopia, to make it possible. We hired a bulldozer to shape the land. And we ordered 3 dump truck loads of locally produced compost, 1 of black dirt, and 1 of manure.

This gave us about 4-6 inches of good topsoil to go with our sand and rocks, and probably ten trillion quack grass and weed seeds that would happily spring to life as soon as they got the chance. Some of the weeds turned out to be rather toxic to our skin and can cause nasty rashes to break out days later on exposed flesh.

I suppose most of us growing stuff have to face many of the same challenges. But our being gone for weeks at a time has meant that when we are there, we spend our two or three days weeding.

“Oh, you poor fools,” you say, “why don’t you mulch?” Ah, but we do. Bales of straw, leaves from the neighbor’s yard, cardboard, and a dump truck load of wood chips for the pathways all contribute to our constant competition between the desired and not-so-desired plant life. The problem, of course, is that they all biodegrade, making new soil, but no longer stopping the unwanted weeds, trees, and invasive species from rising once again.

Read More: Straw vs Hay – Which Makes a Better Mulch?

Learning Which Crops to Grow

In June and July, patches that look weed-free when we leave are overgrown when we get back. This makes it particularly tough on the peas and carrots. My adaptive strategy has been to raise a lot of squash and pumpkins. They have such big leaves and take up so much space that success is almost possible. I give the local food shelf (and anyone else who wants some) at least 100 of them every fall.

spaghetti-squash

Keeping Critters out of the Crops

The other challenge is the critters. Putting a buffet in the middle of the forest is kinda crazy. They want to eat everything. We dealt with this by having a fence erected right when we started. It’s chest-high and does keep out the rabbits.

It has a solar powered battery running a current through a wire which is 18 inches above the fence, and that actually does keep the deer out. I know they aren’t getting in because we turn it off for the winter, and the deer break the wire when they climb in during the off season. During the summer, they are often seen loitering nearby, and we’ve heard them asking each other, “What time does the salad bar open?”

Learn More About Electric Fencing: Electrified Fence for Predators (Solar Available)

Raccoons – A Worthy Adversary

Another big problem we had starting in our third year was the raccoons. Nasty, voracious, clever, not-so-little invaders, who like to eat fresh young plants as well as many veggies during their struggling attempts to become our food.

The pea pods just disappear by the hundreds. I attempted to solve this predation by adding a second wire to the electric fence, this time just above the non-electrified fence. This sorta works, but they are persistent buggers, and losses are now just part of the equation. We will never grow sunflowers again; the birds got all of them.

Learn More About Raccoons in the Garden and Homestead: A Whole Litter of Raccoon Solutions

The Tiny Pests are as Bad as the Big Ones

Speaking of bugs, we have lots of them. They too know it is a short growing season, and they make the most of it. We have lots of swampy marsh areas nearby and uncountable swarms of mosquitoes and other blood-sucking vampires that feel it is their god-given right to torment us when we foolishly overstay our welcome in their domain (which is to say, every time we go outside). All I can add is that our prayers for a steady breeze to blow the bloodsuckers away are not always answered.

With all of these problems, you might wonder why we keep turning the soil every spring. We ask this same question as well. Perhaps we bit off more than we can chew. The farmers market sure has great stuff at reasonable prices, and all we have to do is bring our grocery bags home and eat.

But the fact is, we have learned a lot about feeding ourselves, and I’ll be damned if I will let this garden just return to a weed-infested patch in the woods. When I retire next year, I will finally have enough time to really do this right. Maybe even go fishing and hiking… maybe take up hunting… who knows? The immediate question is, “Does anybody need some squashes?”


Thanks to “Northern Dirt Digger” for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We’re still getting the list of prizes lined up for the Spring 2016 Writing Contest. We awarded over $2,097 in prizes for the Fall Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

 

A Good Solution for Pastured Poultry Predators

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Stop Dogs, Raccoons, Coyotes, and More

So, the verdict is in, and pastured poultry is the preferred method for raising healthy chickens… and eggs. So if you can pasture your chickens, you should! Your chickens (and your pasture) will probably thank you for it.

One thing that stops many people from unlocking the coop or run is the threat of predators. It can be intimidating to release your chickens from their little fortress if you’ve never let them roam before.

Dogs, raccoons, coyotes – there are chicken predators everywhere! I’ve heard many people say, “just get dogs.” Livestock guardian dogs are a great choice for some – but they’re not an option for many people.

This electric poultry netting is Marjory’s favorite fix for a flock without guardians. It only takes one person to move it around, and you can run it on solar power – simple and effective. In this video, Marjory chats with Joe Putnam from Premier 1 about how the netting works and some of the options:

Win a Free Roll of Electric Poultry Netting

There’s obviously a big demand for chicken protection, based on the discussion we had about raccoons last summer here at the [Grow] Network. If you recall, people from all over the U.S. (and all over the world) chimed in with their favorite solutions for raccoons. If you missed it, you can find an overview of the whole thing here: A Whole Litter of Raccoon Solutions.

Electrifying the perimeter was a popular solution that people talked about. Premier 1 lets you do it at an affordable cost. You can electrify a small perimeter and move it around within a bigger field or pasture. So it’s a nice option for people who don’t want to protect the entire property.

Premier 1 is a sponsor for our upcoming Home Grown Food Summit. And one lucky customer is going to get a complimentary roll of Premier 1 poultry netting to try out in their own yard or pasture.

Read More: Is this really the best way to raise a small flock of chickens?


You can learn more about Premier 1’s product line here: Premier 1 Electric Fencing

 

How To Remove Pesticides From Food

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big pesticides

Even if all of your food is organic, you still need to wash it. If your food isn’t organic, you definitely need to clean it thoroughly before you eat it. Here’s a little gem for you though: there are some foods that you can’t cleanse of pesticides because they grow right in or are absorbed through the skin.

We’ll talk about those foods as well because if you’re serious about avoiding pesticides, you’ll need to buy those foods from the organic section.

Even if you’ve purchased organic foods, it’s still needed to wash them, if for no other reason than that there have been so many hands on them from farm to your fridge. Pickers, sorters, drivers, unloaders, grocery store employees, shoppers…the list just goes on. You don’t know where all of those hands have been – wash your produce before you eat it!

Bought Washes versus Homemade Washes

To begin, let’s start with the proper way to wash pesticides off of the outside of vegetables. There are numerous store washes that you can buy. Some are natural and others aren’t. As a matter of fact, some of the cleansers have harsh cleansers that almost make me decide which is worse to eat – the pesticide or the detergent!

None of the commercial products are as inexpensive as the natural, homemade ways to do it, either.

The first, and most beneficial, way to wash pesticides from your produce is to put your produce in a bowl so that it’s covered with a solution of one part white vinegar and four parts water. Let them soak for up to an hour, then rinse well under running water, scrubbing if possible. Experts have shown that this solution not only effectively removes many pesticides; it also kills up to 98 percent of bacteria. That means that you have less chance of getting sick and your produce will last longer.

Of course, this method is effective for all produce because it gets into the nooks and crannies of veggies like broccoli.

To be perfectly honest, there’s no way to get all of the pesticides off of your produce. The only study that I could find regarding veggie washes was once conducted at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station way back in 2000. What they found was that scrubbing the vegetables under plain water removed as many pesticides as the top veggie cleaners and Palmolive dish soap.

Another study done by the University of Florida in 2003 showed that vinegar killed about 90 percent of bacteria, including E. Coli, and 95 percent of viruses. Studies since then have confirmed that vinegar is a definitely an antibacterial and antiviral, so it’s likely that the reason most people recommend the vinegar wash is a combination of the scrubbing to remove the pesticide and the vinegar to kill the gross stuff.

homemade washer

You may have noted a gaping hole above – nothing removes ALL pesticides, even from the outer skin of produce. If you really want to get all of the pesticides off the outside of the produce, you’re going to need to peel it.

When it comes to pesticides on produce, all are not equal. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) works to make both the planet and the people on it healthier by providing information backed by research. Each year they conduct a study that evaluates pesticide levels on over 3000 pieces of produce in an attempt to find a balance between a consumer’s health and their wallet.

The produce is tested for all sorts of pesticides – for example, in 2013, there were 165 different pesticides found! The theory here is that there are two lists. The Dirty Dozen lists the fruits and vegetables that tested positive for the highest levels of pesticides. They also add a “plus” list for two or three of the ones next in line that didn’t make the list. This list is comprised of produce that you should purchase organic.

The second list is called The Clean 15. These are the fruits and vegetables that tested for the lowest amounts of pesticides. These fruits and veggies are OK to buy in the traditional section of the store. I’ll get into more detail when we discuss the lists.

The 2015 Dirty Dozen

Some of the top findings this year: 99 percent of apples, 98 percent of peaches and 97 percent of nectarines sampled tested positive for at least one type of pesticide residue. Potatoes had more pesticides by weight than any of the other produce tested.

One grape sample and one sweet bell pepper sample had at least 15 pesticides and individual samples of nectarines, peaches, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and imported snap peas had a whopping 13 different pesticides each – all on one piece off produce!

So, without further ado, the Dirty Dozen List:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Hot Peppers – plus list
  • Kale/Collard Greens – plus list

As you can see, not even half of these fruits and veggies can be peeled, so it’s just best to buy organic.

pesticideshittingyou

The Clean Fifteen

This is the list that contains the cleanest fruits and veggies. The EWG considers these to be the safest foods to buy in the non-organic section. As a matter of fact, sometimes buying items from this list is just a waste of money because the small amounts of pesticides actually found on them can be rinsed off, or are at such low levels that they’re irrelevant.

Some key findings: Only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any trace of pesticides at all. 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mangoes and 61 percent of cantaloupes had no pesticide residues at all. None of the samples on this list contained more than 4 types of pesticides and only 5.5 percent of the samples had two or more pesticides.

In short, these fruits and veggies are clean. Buy the conventional versions of them, take them home, wash them with some vinegar water to get rid of yuck bugs, then enjoy them! Don’t waste your money on organic versions!

The List:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes

Another point that many people fail to take into consideration is that chemicals affect kids differently than they do adults due to developmental issues. Kids are still growing. Central nervous systems, brains, endocrine systems and digestive systems still aren’t fully developed. The EWG has a ton of great information that will help you make smart choices for your kids, too.

The bottom line is that you can’t wash all of the pesticides off of your produce. If you want to insure that you’re not getting any pesticides (at least any added pesticides), then you need to buy organic or grow your own food. The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 are great places to start. And if you decide to grow your own organic food, you still have means for pest control without using chemicals.

If you have anything that you’d like to add to this list, please feel free to do so in the comments section below!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Trouble Within: Why Pest Control Is Key to Your Survival

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Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. That’s the survivalist’s mantra. When gathering and storing resources for your family’s protection, it’s important to always have one eye on the worst case scenario. It’s also important to be realistic about where the biggest threats to your safety can come from. An attack can happen […]

The post Trouble Within: Why Pest Control Is Key to Your Survival appeared first on Expert Prepper Blog.

Chipmunks – Cute Critters or Rotten Pests?

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a-pair-of-chipmunksI always thought of chipmunks as nothing more than cute little furry forest friends. I would see them running around all the time and since they had never touched my plants or tunneled into my garden I never really gave them too much thought. So I suppose you could say I liked them and had nothing at all against any of them, but that all changed the summer I spent with my maternal grandparents in rural Pennsylvania. That was when I truly learned to detest and despise Alvin, Simon, and Theodore!

My first experience with them as a pest had to do with a container planting of annuals located on the front steps of my Nana’s porch. Every morning I would walk outside only to find this large container in disarray. Two or three of the plants would be uprooted, lying on the ground withering. I’d plant them again, and every night something would dig them up again for me to find the next day. This went on for some time and really drove me bonkers! I had no idea what was happening, was it the neighborhood feral cats? Perhaps a mini-Sasquatch or a hungry bear? Maybe it was the chupacabra, the legendary ‘goat sucker’, mutated into some kind of monster – into some horrible herbivore!

Nope, nothing as cool as space aliens or earth bound monsters either. It was due to chipmunks. I was only able to solve the mystery when I caught one red-pawed, nibbling away at some of the tomato plants my grandparents’ neighbors were growing in their garden. At first glance I thought that I was looking at a young squirrel, but it did not have a bushy tail, and I clearly saw four or five dark stripes down its back. Then, after double-checking some extension service bulletins, I was able to confirm my conclusion – it was not a squirrel, but a chipmunk!

In fact, the extension agent I spoke with, a nice old-timer with an easy smile named Barney Roache, warned me that chipmunks can be around for decades just being darned cute and no trouble at all. And then one day, for no apparent reason, they can “all of sudden go bad and become the absolute worst of garden pests.” He went on to tell me that unlike squirrels, which are blatantly plotting to undo everything you’ve accomplished as a homeowner, chipmunks tend to fly under the radar. Because they are less likely to sneak off into your house, and tend to wreak less havoc on your bird feeders, their destructive behaviors are often blamed on their larger cousins. But according to Barney, “When your yard is suddenly filled with a thousand little potholes, don’t blame the moles. It’s probably a chipmunk.”

Now then, for all you out there who are avid gardeners like I am, you probably don’t need this little story to tell you how frustrating it can be to have your bulbs stolen by fuzzy little rodents with chubby cheeks! Heck, even Donald Duck got totally frustrated trying to keep Chip and Dale out of his back yard vegetable garden!

At this point in my summer vacation, I had had enough! I wanted to do something right away. I began to study chipmunks in more depth. After all, I figured, knowledge is power, right? Knowing a few facts about chipmunks might just help me to prevent them from eating Nana’s bulbs, damaging other young plants, or causing damage to any of the structures.

I found a wildlife publication from Penn State University that provided a concise summary of chipmunk biology, as well as control methods. From this publication I learned that chipmunk burrows can extend 20 to 30 feet. There is no soil piled around the openings, because chipmunks carry it away from the burrows in their cheek pouches and scatter it away from the openings. The burrows are complex, with chambers for nesting, food storage, side pockets and escape tunnels. They may range over about half an acre, but the chipmunks only defend about 50 feet around their main burrow opening.

There usually are two generations of chipmunks born per year, with two to five offspring in early spring and then another two to five little ones again in late summer. So if you seem to have a whole army of them around you, this may be why – they tend to breed like rabbits!

Chipmunks gather and store food, often seeds, throughout the year. If you have seen clumps of sunflowers coming up in flower pots, or small bulbs blooming far away from where you planted them, you can likely thank a chipmunk for that! Actually, this work of sowing seeds is one of their main purposes in natural woodlands, where they help with forest regeneration. Although chipmunks eat mostly seeds, they round out their diets with berries, nuts, insects, and mushrooms on the ground. Chipmunks can also climb trees to gather food up high, and to prey on young birds and bird eggs.

Chipmunks do not hibernate during fall and winter as woodchucks do, but remain rather inactive, subsisting on their stored food. You may see them active on warm, sunny days. In addition to damaging gardens, chipmunks can also cause damage to structures by burrowing under stairways, retention walls, or foundations.

As you can imagine, totally keeping chipmunks out of a yard or garden is going to be pretty much impossible. Chipmunks are almost as acrobatic as that most evil of garden foes, the squirrel – and they are much smaller to boot. You would really have to fence off the entire area in sturdy hardware cloth, sink it down about two feet in the ground, and then build a roof of hardware cloth to keep the chipmunks out from above. This really just isn’t a good option for most of us. So, fencing is out.

As I learned more, I realized that there are several things we can do to coexist with chipmunks on more friendly terms. While these little furry neighbors can be quite exasperating, we should consider why they do what they do. These critters eat nuts, leaves, berries, roots, and seeds. Generally, there is enough food for them in our backyard habitats, and they don’t become pests. Squirrels bury little stashes of food in multiple places, especially in your cultivated soil. But chipmunks commonly store their food in one place in their underground burrows. They stay busy foraging, and they’re delighted to come across a squirrel stash, or your bulbs. As you can imagine, when one of these animals finds your bulb plantings, they think they have just arrived at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

a-chipmunk-eating-a-tomatoIn hot, dry summers, chipmunks are often looking for water, too. And this is when they start to appear around birdbaths and vegetable gardens. I learned about this firsthand that same summer in Pennsylvania. One summer evening our family was picnicking in the shade of a tree. The little devils harvested my nice, ripe tomatoes while I wasn’t looking. They climbed the tree above our table to dine on my tomatoes in peace, and to drink the juice. Then, just to mock me, the little pests dropped a half-eaten red tomato bomb right on my head!

Now, you can deter chipmunks with some natural methods, or you can get rid of them using a variety of traps. Or you can get all medieval on their asses! Over the years I have learned of several ways, some more humane than others, to deal with chipmunk problems. Below you will find some tried and true remedies for your chipmunk blues…

1. Purchase a Live Animal Trap
Scatter sunflower seeds or peanuts around the trap to entice the chipmunks. Then remove the chipmunks from the trap according to your municipality’s animal control ordinances.

2. Place a Bucket Half-Filled with Water Where the Chipmunks are Active
bucket-trap-for-chipmunks• Lean a wooden plank against the side of the bucket.
• Scatter sunflower seeds on the plank, in the water and on the grass around the bucket. The chipmunks will walk on the plank to eat the seeds, fall into the bucket and drown.
• If you only want to get rid of chipmunks and keep squirrels alive, be sure to squirrel-proof your homemade trap or put it in a place that squirrels don’t normally go. Curious squirrels might end up finding the traps, eating the bait, and drown.
• Check with your city or county animal control agency to find out how to dispose of the dead chipmunks. Always wear gloves when handling dead animals, and always wash your hands afterward. Many times, they are infested with fleas, mites and other unpleasant parasites.

3. Put out Mousetraps to Get Rid of Chipmunks
Slather a mix of peanut butter and oatmeal on the trap. While this will kill the chipmunks, the method is quick and spares them pain. Again, dispose of the animals according to the rules of your city or country. Keep checking on the mousetraps throughout the day; squirrels might try to eat the bait and/or carry the traps away.

4. Set out Mothballs
Place mothballs around the foundation of your house, near your plantings and around chipmunk holes. Mothballs won’t eliminate chipmunks, but they will push the critters back to the perimeter of your yard and away from your landscaping.

5. Use Beach Balls and CDs
giant-beach-ball-in-yardChipmunks frighten easily, use this to your advantage. Inflate beach balls and let the wind blow them around your yard. You can also hang old CDs or DVDs to from your trees with string so that the wind blows them around. Use anything that might cause a bit of motion to frighten the little creatures away.

6. Put out Items that Chipmunks Hate to Smell
Try sprinkling blood meal around the roots of your plants. You can also place un-chewed sticks of fragrant gum near chipmunk holes.

7. Use a Commercial Deer Repellent
Chippies don’t like the taste of rotten eggs any more than Bambi does.

8. Let Your Pets Roam Outdoors
Having your dog or cat in the yard will often frighten chipmunks away.

9. Spray Hot Sauce or Pepper Spray on and around Your Plants
Alternatively, you can sprinkle cayenne pepper on your plants. Doing this will keep the chipmunks from chomping on your landscaping. Note that the capsaicin in cayenne is toxic to bees and other beneficial pollinators, so you might use this as a last resort.

10. If You Find a Chipmunk in Your Home…
• Open your doors and windows to the outside to give the chipmunk an opportunity to run out. At the same time, close any doors or entrances to your interior rooms so that the chipmunk has nowhere to go but out.
• Prop a board or other flat item against the sills of your open windows. A board will give the chipmunks something to climb so that they can run out of the window.
• Grab a blanket and use it to herd the chipmunk toward the door. If the chipmunk climbs the blanket, don’t panic. Just gently roll up the blanket, take it outside and dump the chipmunk out.
• Call a professional to get rid of dead chipmunks in the house. If a chipmunk has gotten into your attic or in the walls of your house and has died there, let a professional deal with that problem.

Before you look to get rid of your chipmunk problem with the more violent solutions listed above you might find it wise to keep a few other thoughts in mind. Consider that young children may be bothered by seeing dead chipmunks floating in a bucket of water or stuck in a mousetrap. Be sensitive to their feelings and dispose of the dead animals out of their sight. Also consider that you may just need to call an exterminator or your local animal control department. If none of these methods work, then talk to an expert about eliminating your chipmunk problem.

If chipmunks are just digging up your bulbs, then before you go on a killing spree, try planting the bulbs in a cage made of 1″ x 1″ (2.5 cm x 2.5 cm) wire mesh to keep the critters out.

Finally, be smart! First, you should never place a bucket of water where small children will be able to access it. Small children can fall into the bucket and drown, even in very shallow water. Secondly, be sure you follow the law! Your city/county/state may or may not have a law prohibiting you from killing these animals.

Back during my rural Pennsylvania vacation there were no restrictions, but in the nearby state of New Jersey there were. That state and many others have laws that protect rodents from inhumane capture, treatment, and death. If you are unsure of the local laws, you should check with your state’s ASPCA before attempting the bucket or mousetrap methods. Otherwise, you could be fined or even jailed for doing so. And if you think the chipmunks are a problem, wait until you are stuck in a cold jail cell!