Smells like... curiosity

Yesterday I talked about the container garden I created in my front yard, using many of the "left over" plants that have been cluttering up the driveway. I actually did that project in two parts: I spent Saturday potting everything up, then Sunday morning (before it got too hot) I moved the pots into their final positions.

So the pots sat on the driveway overnight Saturday. That's important. It's also important to remember that I was working literally all day outside Saturday, so was exhausted by the time evening came around. Tired body, tired mind. Tired mind forgets important details. Raccoons do not forget so easily though.


You see, I always add some organic fertilizer to my pots when I add plants. I will use Miracle-Gro solution on all of my potted plants throughout the growing season, but I like to have some organics in there too because they're slow-release, and not too strong.

At least not too strong as fertilizers. They are a bit strong in the olfactory area, depending on what you use. I used Milorganite, which is made from processed, um, "bio-waste". It has an interesting smell that I usually  find to be pretty nice, but the raccoons just love it. They really do.

So whenever I use it I need to remember to either use a strong-smelling mulch to help mask the odor, or use some sort of repellent to keep them from digging in the pots.

Except in my exhausted state I forgot this time, and awoke to this mess Sunday morning.

In their digging frenzy, they also cleaned out my freshly-weeded driveway cracks:

Good thing I spent the time sweeping the driveway clean when I was finished on Saturday. Grrrr.

This digging activity usually lessens each night until it stops completely, probably because the scent of the fertilizer fades. Still, it's not fun having to repot partially unearthed plants even once.

They really dug a lot of soil out of this large pot!

I should say that since I've never seen the digging as it happened, I'm not entirely sure that it is raccoons -- but they're the most likely suspects in my yard. Whatever the excavators are they sure love that Milorganite! I suspect they think it smells like something almost edible, and they're curious and maybe frustrated about why they can't quite find the source of the scent.

I once left a bag of it outside overnight, and they tore it open, scattering it all around. I'm pretty sure they eat it too, since I once left a small pile of it out there as a test and it was gone in the morning. That's an excessive amount of curiosity, isn't it? It doesn't appear that the animals are in danger though:

Eating too much Milorganite can induce vomiting, which can lead to dehydration, incontinence (stiffness in the hind legs), atrophy, depression and black stools.

That's from the Milorganite FAQ page. Although I did find a dead raccoon on my deck one morning, all four legs stiff in the air like a cartoon corpse, that was years before I started using Milorganite. I'm glad I don't see evidence of the other symptoms though. (Perhaps it's a delayed response and some of my neighbors have been cleaning up raccoon vomit these last few mornings?)

I wish I didn't see any evidence of the digging either, but I suppose this sort of thing is to be expected when living with wildlife.


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Gardener on Sherlock Street  – (August 3, 2011 at 9:20 AM)  

Oh dear. I know there are racoons in our city--big fat ones, but I haven't had any digging like this. Opposums sometimes.

RURAL  – (August 3, 2011 at 11:12 AM)  

I can so see the little brats digging up everything. We have such a problem with them here, and we live in the middle of the city....

Hope that things get back to order soon for you.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Rock rose  – (August 3, 2011 at 11:37 AM)  

I think you need to put them to work in a more productive area. Like a new patch of ground. It reminds me of when we moved into our house in Chesterfield. Our neighbors, on the ravine, had new sod and the raccoons would roll it up every night to get to the grubs. So far, I haven't seen raccoons in our garden. They seem to prefer areas closer into the city. Every other critter but not them, than goodness.

sllawrence –   – (August 3, 2011 at 1:39 PM)  

Oh, my, so sorry for your hard work ruined. I do hope you don't lose any of your plants. With the drought here in Texas, the wild animals are getting pretty desperate for food. Our battles to keep gardens alive in the extreme heat and drying winds are being complicated by marauding night visitors. I just got through relocating a whole family of raccoons because it was simply too disheartening to get up each morning to total destruction. They seemed especially interested in anything that had been watered late in the day. Since we are on water restrictions, we must water when we can. The last straw was when they broke limbs and bird feeders and removed birdhouses in a quest for baby birds/eggs. I took these guys to their new home out in the middle of nowhere beside a portion of the Guadalupe River that has both deeps and shallows, with fish for them to catch for their dinner. They probably thought they'd died and gone to raccoon heaven! I have sympathy for their scarce food plight, but enough is enough.

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