If you are a gardener, you know that you need to protect your vegetable garden from animals.
Most of us love wildlife, but having our prized fruits and vegetables eaten by animals can be frustrating.
If you grow anything like pumpkins, melons, or other large vegetables and fruits, you know how sad it can be to see them eaten before you can harvest them.
Depending on where your garden is located, you may be dealing with a variety of animals that are getting into your garden. Your options for protecting your garden may be different as well, depending on where you live.
Sometimes you will be able to just build a fence, but other times you may have to get a bit craftier and use sprays or other substances to protect your growing pumpkins.
This post will outline some of the steps that show you how to protect growing pumpkins from animals.
What Animals Eat Pumpkins?
Many animals, wildlife, and otherwise, eat pumpkins. Some of the main animals you will need to protect your pumpkins from are:
- Mice and rats
Pretty much any animal that can get into your garden will want to sample your pumpkins, even if they are not on this list.
Many animals are opportunistic and are not very picky when it comes to available food.
If you live in a large city, you know that raccoons, for example, will eat anything they can get their hands on. Raccoons are as likely to go for your pumpkins as they are to dig through your garbage!
Pumpkins are sweet, which attracts many animals to them.
Smaller animals will probably take a few bites from your pumpkins, but larger animals could likely eat a whole pumpkin pretty quickly!
Do Possums Eat Pumpkins?
Although possums are not one of the most common animals that eat pumpkins, they are definitely able to eat pumpkins and will nibble on them if they can find them.
Possums are known to dig through garbage and eat almost anything they can get their hands on. If a possum gets into your garden, it probably will nibble on just about anything it can find.
Do Bears Eat Pumpkins?
Pumpkins are not a staple in a bear’s diet, but like possums, they will definitely eat pumpkins if they can get their hands on them.
Depending on where you live, seeing a bear in your garden eating your pumpkins is probably pretty rare.
But if you live in a rural area where bears are common, you very well could have bears eating your pumpkins.
If a bear finds a pumpkin, it will probably go ahead and eat the whole thing!
Do Raccoons Eat Pumpkins?
When it comes to food, raccoons are not picky.
A raccoon will eat just about anything it can get its hands on. You might see raccoons digging through your trash and eating scraps, and they will be more than happy to eat fresh produce out of your garden as well.
Again, pumpkins are not a staple in a raccoon’s diet. But when it comes to raccoons, they will eat anything they can find, and your pumpkins will make tasty treats for them!
Do Rats Eat Pumpkins?
Rats eat a large variety of garden vegetables, including pumpkins.
A rat will not be able to eat a whole pumpkin in one sitting, but if you find bite marks or small chunks taken out of your pumpkin, it is probably the work of a rat.
Do Squirrels Eat Pumpkins?
Squirrels don’t seem to particularly like pumpkins, but they will definitely eat them.
Squirrels, like many animals, want to fatten themselves up for the winter. Come fall, squirrels will be tempted to eat just about anything that is still in your garden.
Like rats, though, they won’t go ahead and eat a whole pumpkin. They will likely just take some bites of the flesh and call it a day.
Do Coyotes Eat Pumpkins?
Coyotes, like raccoons, are opportunistic omnivores and will eat just about anything that they can get their paws on.
Although, coyotes are much less likely than raccoons to be digging through your trash.
If a coyote gets into your garden and finds your pumpkins, it is likely that it will eat at least some of a pumpkin!
How Can You Protect Growing Pumpkins From Animals?
There are a few steps that you can take to protect your growing pumpkins from animals.
Motion Sensor Sprinkler
You can try to scare animals out of your garden by using a motion sensor sprinkler. This is probably best if you live in a more rural location as it could become a nuisance in a city.
You can set up this sprinkler so that if any animal gets too close to it, the sprinkler will turn on and spray them.
This won’t hurt any of the animals that get into your garden, but it should help to scare them away and keep them from eating your food.
Use A Scarecrow
You can try using a scarecrow to keep animals out of your garden and away from your growing pumpkins.
If you don’t want a whole scarecrow sitting in your garden, you can try using silhouette shapes of animals like owls or foxes, which should help to scare animals away from your garden.
This method will likely only work on smaller animals as they will see the silhouettes as a predator.
Make Use Of Your Pet’s Fur
If you have a dog or cat, using their fur can help deter other animals away from your garden.
Note that this method usually works best for smaller animals, and a bear or coyote will likely not be deterred by this method.
You can brush your cat or dog and place their loose hairs in your garden, around the base of the pumpkin.
The smell of your pet’s fur will deter the smaller animals who may nibble on your crops. Dogs and cats are seen as predators to smaller animals, so the scent will help to keep them away.
Get A Fence
Fencing in your garden may be the best way to protect your growing pumpkins from animals.
Obviously, this is not always doable depending on where you live, but if you live in a rural location or have a large yard, putting a fence around your vegetable patch may be feasible.
If you are going to build a fence, pick sturdy materials that are tall enough to deter deer and bears.
Avoid chicken wire because even though it is cheap, it will not be strong enough.
Try to use a mesh that has gaps no larger than 5cm, which will also help to keep out small animals that could slip through.
How Can You Deter Animals From Growing Pumpkins?
If the above methods don’t work to keep animals out of your garden and away from your growing pumpkins, you can try these methods.
Make A Homemade Animal Repellent
One sure-fire way to deter animals from eating your pumpkins is to coat them in a homemade animal repellant.
You can make a hot pepper spray which will definitely keep animals from biting into your pumpkins.
Simply fill a spray bottle halfway with water and add a few drops of any hot sauce. Then mix in a few drops of dish soap and shake it up.
The dish soap will help the mixture stick to the pumpkin, and the hot pepper sauce will keep animals from biting your pumpkins.
If they do bite your pumpkins anyway, they definitely will not go for a second bite!
Try to spray your pumpkins often, and especially after each rain.
Use Premade Repellent
If you find that your hot pepper concoction doesn’t work, you can try using a store-bought repellent.
You can find deer and rabbit repellent sprays at your local garden center. The spray uses a combination of smells and tastes that are unpleasant to these animals and should keep them away from your pumpkins.
Put A Brick Under Your Growing Pumpkin
Moles may try to get into your pumpkins by coming up from the soil under your pumpkin and eating the bottom of the pumpkin.
In order to protect your pumpkins from moles, you can set each pumpkin on a brick or piece of wood – anything really so that your pumpkin is just off the soil.
This will prevent at least moles from getting into your pumpkins and eating them from the bottom.
Another bonus feature of this method is that it may help to reduce the risk of your pumpkin rotting. If your pumpkin sits in soil that is too moist as it grows, it may rot. Having it up out of the soil is a good way to protect it from rotting.
Plant Marigolds Near Your Growing Pumpkins
Deer, in particular, do not like the smell of marigolds.
If you plant marigolds near your pumpkins, deer are likely to stay away. You can even try planting marigolds as a perimeter around your garden to keep deer at bay.
The marigolds themselves will probably not keep deer out of your garden entirely, but the smell may help cover up the good smells in the garden, and deer may just leave your plants alone.
Use Irish Spring Soap
Some gardeners swear by Irish Spring soap to keep animals, especially deer, out of their gardens and away from pumpkins.
Some people will hang bars of the soap in their garden or just place a few bars of the soap on the ground among the pumpkins.
This is definitely a cheap and easy option, so you may want to give it a try!
Use Red Pepper Flakes
Sprinkling red pepper flakes onto the soil around your growing pumpkins might help to ward off any small critters.
The red pepper flakes will cause a burning sensation on the paws of the small animals that step on them, and they will likely not return to your garden after that unpleasant sensation.
Get Rid Of Other Things That Will Attract Animals To Your Yard
Animals, particularly bears, raccoons, and coyotes, may be especially attracted to other things in your yard, such as your compost, garbage, or even your BBQ.
If you live in a rural area and experience these animals, make sure to do the following:
- Cover your compost. Make sure that your compost heap is covered with a tarp that is secured around the perimeter with bricks. This will help to keep animals away.
- Lock up your garbage. Invest in a garbage receptacle that is bear-proof if you live in an area where this is an issue. Alternatively, to protect your garbage from raccoons and coyotes, you can keep your garbage bins inside your garage or place a few bricks on the lid of the garbage can.
- Clean your BBQ. Animals may be drawn in by the scent of leftovers on your grill. Make sure to thoroughly clean your grill after every use and clean up any fat or sauces that may have dripped around the BBQ.
- Clean up tall grass. Animals may be especially attracted to your yard and garden if they see opportunities to nest and burrow. By getting rid of tall grass, you eliminate places where small animals can hide and nest, and they will be discouraged from taking up residence near your pumpkins.
Invading animals are a part of the gardening process, and we spend a lot of time figuring out how to keep them away.
There are many things that you can do to protect your garden from unwanted animals, and those options may vary depending on where you live and what your garden setup is.
You may have to experiment with some different methods, and not all methods will work for all animals.
It is worth it to try a few different approaches and see what works best for you and your garden environment. You may even want to keep a record to help you figure out what works best from year to year.
Happy gardening, and good luck with growing your pumpkins!