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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Owl and the Peregrine

The neighborhood squirrels and birds love my vegetable garden. I always plant more tomatoes than I expect to harvest with a little bit of attrition in mind --"one for the mouse, one for the house." The internet says that the rhyme actually says "one for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, one to grow" but I don't like the implied 75% loss there. 

The varmints seem to be more aggressive than usual this year. Birds pecked holes in my early bell peppers and eggplants to reach the tasty seeds inside. I find a tomato or two on the ground with one bite missing every day (ATTENTION SQUIRRELS: If you're going to steal my fruit, please have the courtesy to eat the whole thing). I only have enough space to overplant tomatoes so there's a real danger that I won't get any peppers or eggplant or squash at all this year. 

What's a gardener to do? The obvious answer is off the table: Firing a shotgun in my town would bring a SWAT team down on me.

If I were to google solutions, I might very well trigger a Curio City ad for bird kites. I've sold hundreds of Osprey and Falcon kites specifically to protect gardens just like mine; many customers have testified that these kites are the one non-lethal solution that really works. They need more airspace than my small yard can offer, though. I could probably fly a small bird (Blackbird, Blue Jay, or Cardinal) but those aren't proven scarecrows. 

So I invested $30 in a solar owl on an online friend's recommendation. Hundreds of reviews on Amazon were split about 50/50 as to its effectiveness. After a couple of encouraging days the local squirrels wised up, and vegetables started disappearing again. 

Since they're laughing at my fake owl, I fell back upon the only other thing that's ever repelled squirrels: predator urine. Fox whiz is too expensive to guard the whole garden; tomatoes are still being chomped. Whether the piss pots will protect my other plants remains to be seen. As long as hunger trumps fear, I am not optimistic. 

And: Yes, the picture above is really of me and my $30 owl. 

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