9 Ways to Keep Critters Out of Your Garden

9 Ways to Keep Critters Out of Your Garden

A guest post from our sponsor –Park Seed

Few hobbies are quite as rewarding as growing a vegetable garden. From seed, you’re able to create colorful, delicious specimens—the pride of your kitchen! And, after all the babying, watering, and elbow grease you’ve put in throughout the season, nothing’s worse than watching critters munch on your home-grown fruits and veggies. Rather than the perfect and prize-winning, you’re left with the damaged, bruised, and half-eaten. Luckily, there are a few tried-and-true methods for keeping critters out, and we’re here to share some.

  1. Figure Out Who’s Munching What – Your veggie garden is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for rabbits, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and insects, the fruits and leaves providing them with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But that information isn’t enough for you to formulate an effective keep-out plan. You have to know exactly who’s eating what.
    • This guide from the University of Massachusetts Amherst can help you figure out what kind of animals are gorging on your garden and why. Once you know for sure, you can tailor your strategy to the specific interloper.
  2. Build a Fence – If you’ve got a Peter Rabbit in your midst, you’re going to have to get creative like Mr. McGregor. A small fence around the garden is the perfect way to keep Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter from snacking on your veggies, but it’s probably not the best option for keeping out larger critters like deer, who are known to hop as high as 8 feet. Bunnies jump, too, of course, but most aren’t able to get any higher than 3 feet.
    • Choose a fence that offers both a visual and physical block so that animals can’t see what’s in the garden and won’t be tempted to break in.
  3. Plant Insect-Repellant Plants – Did you know that mint is a natural insect repellent? And, since it’s pretty darn easy to grow (and also tastes delicious in your summery cocktails), there’s no reason not to plant it all over the garden, as long as you keep its roots contained in a pot so it doesn’t spread—and it will. Using mint as an insect repellent is an especially useful approach if you’ve noticed damage from creepy crawlers and fliers, but it won’t do much for keeping out the fuzzy critters in the yard. Other insect-repelling plants include marigolds, mums, basil, lavender, and petunias.
  4. Use a Rabbit and Deer Repellent – There are tons of garden pest control products you can try, but some of the best are deer and rabbit repellents. For keeping out deer, choose a product that contains dried porcine and bovine blood—these ingredients repel browsing deer and keep them away before they can start to snack on your plants. Rabbits and other critters can also be repelled by products that contain concentrated garlic compounds and other odors that scare them away.
  5. Protect Plants with a Plastic Tunnel – Not everyone can have an expansive, animal-proof greenhouse for safeguarding their fragile plants, but net and plastic tunnels can provide similar effects to shield plants from weather and critters. You simply unfold the telescoping tunnel over your veggies and flowers, and they’ll instantly be protected from any nibbling nuisances. Pick a durable option made from high-density polypropylene mesh so you can use it next year, too.
  6. Plant in Raised Beds – One of the main benefits of growing your plants in raised beds is that they help prevent weeds from taking over your garden, and weeds are big sources of nutrients for many garden pests. Raise beds can also keep soil-level visitors, especially slugs and snails, from taking up residency in your garden.
    • They are also great platforms for wire fences to directly block access from deer and other creatures. If you like a more tailored and neat aesthetic or prefer to maintain some grass, raised beds are perfect for capturing that look, too!
  7. Scare Them Off – Scarecrows may be more novelty than practical in this day and age, hung up as fall décor rather than a summer decoy, but there are plenty of scare tactics you can use to keep animals out. For example, owl scarecrows—that’s what those plastic owl decoys are actually called—can be useful at deterring birds and small critters from entering your yard and eating your plants. For bigger (and hungrier) pest control, you may want to consider investing in a coyote replica, which may be able to scare away super-pesky geese and bunnies.
  8. Make Your Garden Diverse – Diversity seems like it would attract more critters, broadening the buffet so it appeals to the whole backyard animal kingdom. In reality, though, having a wide variety of plants in each corner of your garden can trick them into thinking there isn’t a lot of value in your yard. Having a large area of appetizing plants signals to animals that there’s an abundance of food available to them, and they’ll come back often and tell their friends, too. Achieve biodiversity in your garden by planting lots of flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and greens.
  9. Welcome Your Garden’s Protectors – Did you know that there are several wild animals that can help protect your garden from critters? Yep, the animal kingdom and biological hierarchy of your landscape naturally keeps the system in check.

Bats munch on tons of bugs that can feast on your plants, while birds of prey like owls and hawks survive on mice, shrews, voles, and other little critters that interlope in your garden. Encourage these predators to safeguard your plants by peppering your landscape with birdhouses and bat houses.

A Labor of Love

While pest control is most certainly a pain, it’s a reminder that we share the natural environment with lots of different species, and that’s a pretty good sign that our ecosystem is thriving! Using a few eco-friendly, safe, and proven garden pest control methods can definitely help you enjoy your garden—and the fruits of your labor—to its fullest.

 

Summerville’s Katie’s Krops reflects on over a decade of national community garden work

By Jerrel Floyd from The Post and Courier | Sep 30, 2020

View Original Article 

SUMMERVILLE — Not many people can say they were internationally recognized for their service, created a program that spans across the United States or are a published author.

Summerville native Katie Stagliano did all three by the time she was 21.

“Age is just a number,” she said. “You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.”

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Katie Stagliano (left) and her mother, Stacy, remove tree roots from a tiller they were using to break up soil in a garden bed on Wednesday Sept. 23, 2020, at Crossroads Community Church in Summerville. Gavin McIntyre/Staff

Stagliano is the founder of Katie’s Krops, a community garden organization with the goal of combating hunger by donating produce. She is also the organizer of Katie’s Krops’ Garden-To-Table Dinners, a program in which Stagliano and other volunteers serve fresh meals to local residents.

The organization started in 2008 with a garden in Stagliano’s backyard. It has since grown to more than 100 community gardens across the U.S. and over 38,000 pounds of donated produce. Its flagship garden is in Summerville at Crossroads Community Church.

The group also reached a milestone in September, serving more than 10,000 meals since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nobody is making any money off of what we are doing,” said Ryan Herrmann, Katie’s Krops’ head chef for the past three years. “I love it.” 

Stagliano has been recognized by Disney Channel, has had documentaries created about her and wrote a children’s book about the beginnings of Katie’s Krops titled “Katie’s Cabbage.”

Those closest to her say she is incredibly humble and doesn’t talk much about her accomplishments.

Stagliano said she’s just still surprised that all of this started with a single cabbage seedling.

Planting a seed

Thousands of residents have benefited from Katie Krop’s over the years. It all began when Stagliano was in the third grade at Pinewood Preparatory School.

She was asked to bring home and raise a cabbage seedling as part of the Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program. She planted it, watered it and even put a cage around it with her grandfather to protect it from deer.

As the cabbage grew, Stagliano eventually got the idea to donate it. It came from her father, John Stagliano, always telling her and her brother how blessed they were to have a meal every night.

Stagliano was advised to take the cabbage to a soup kitchen in North Charleston called Tri-County Family Ministries. The cabbage had grown so big, she couldn’t pick it up herself.

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Peppers grow on Wednesday Sept. 23, 2020, in a community garden started by Katie Stagliano at Crossroads Community Church in Summerville. Gavin McIntyre/Staff

“It was about the size of my 4-year-old brother,” she said.

The cabbage weighed in at 40 pounds at the soup kitchen. It would go on to feed 275 people, and Stagliano would go on to be inspired to expand her garden.

Stacy Stagliano said her daughter was always curious and interested child. She would always ask questions and wasn’t afraid to take the lead on things.

After donating her cabbage, the girl reached out to her school and told officials about her idea to start a community garden. The school ended up giving her a plot of land that was the size of a football field.

“There was really nothing that stopped her,” Stacy Stagliano said. “She just never saw the obstacles.”

At age 12, her daughter was donating produce to a soup kitchen called the Palmetto House through Katie’s Krops. One day they pulled up to the kitchen and saw a small crowd of people standing outside.

There was a handwritten sign on the front door of the kitchen detailing that it was permanently closed. Katie Stagliano took action immediately.

“She said we need to do something,” her mother said.

This led to the creation of Katie’s Krops Garden-To-Table Dinners. Every month at Summerville Baptist Church, a group of volunteers with Katie’s Krops serves a meal to Summerville residents.

The organization is youth-based, meaning young people are often the ones helping to cook the meals and work in the garden. They’ve implemented a seed program where thousands of seeds are shipped across the country to help other children start community gardens.

Camps have also been organized to teach children about community gardening. Herrmann, the head chef, said it’s crazy to think that Stagliano started doing all of this when she was 9.

“It’s inspiring,” he said. “She is something else.”

Filling a need

This year Stagliano was recognized by the National Geographic Society as a young explorer along with 21 other young people from six countries.

The recognition comes with funding and a connection to other community youth leaders across the world. Stagliano is hoping to use the opportunity as a way to expand Katie’s Krops to 500 gardens across all 50 states.

“I never ever imagined in my wildest dreams that any of this would’ve ever happened,” she said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to South Carolina in March, Stagliano said she knew their dinner program would become even more of a necessity.

So instead of one in-person dinner a month, the group created a weekly to-go dinner program. They also went from seeing 250 meals a month to around 400 in a week.

“People were scared and we knew that we needed to be there,” she said.

Residents can come by Summerville Baptist Church every Thursday around 5 p.m. to pick up a meal. The organization is also always open to volunteers.

Scott Johnson and his daughter, Marley, have been volunteering with Katie’s Krops since the beginning of the summer. He sees it as an opportunity to help fellow citizens and teach his daughter about helping people in need.

“I think it’s very good to see someone at such a young age doing so much, especially in the community,” he said. 

Stagliano said the current flagship garden at Crossroads Community Church is a testament to how much she and others in the program have learned about gardening.

They have a compost program and a library where people can read in the garden. They’re also building an outdoor classroom. Stagliano said she wants the community to really use the garden and for it to be a place where everyone is welcome.

Now a College of Charleston student, she feels like everything up to this point, including the cabbage seedling, was meant to be. Stacy Stagliano said she’s incredibly proud of her daughter. She also gets emotional thinking about how the Summerville community allowed a child to lead.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” she said.

Stagliano doesn’t get overwhelmed thinking about all that she has been able to accomplish at her age. She said she knows it wouldn’t have been possible without support from the community.

It can be easy for a young person to have a dream and get overwhelmed trying to complete, she said. That’s the reason it’s a youth-based organization.

She said wants to help and show kids they can make their dreams a reality.

‘Seeds of Change’ inspires new crop of young gardeners during coronavirus pandemic

Published on USA Today

When school went virtual in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, Angie Ackerman had to find a creative way to make the sudden change in her children’s routine more engaging.

She learned that a local non-profit called Katie’s Krops near her home in Summerville, S.C., had started distributing seeds to children who were stuck at home when school buildings closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Within days, the Ackermans received a letter in the mail along with seed packages for sunflowers, cantaloupes, tomatoes and peppers.

Her youngest Bennett, 6, in particular, took to the garden. He would venture outside with his Batman watering can in hand to track the growth of the single sunflower they planted. He measured the growth of the flower standing back to back with it, his mother described.

“That shift to virtual schooling was a big change. I really wanted to do something extra for my kids to help them through it,” she said.

Evelyn, 9, and Bennett, 6, with the sunflower they planted through the Seeds of Change program at their home in Summerville, S.C.

Community garden non-profit grows

The Seeds of Change program is an offshoot of Katie’s Krops, a decade-old non-profit founded by Katie Stagliano when she was only 10 years old.

The young entrepreneur started the program as a community garden to provide fresh produce to local food banks. Using produce from the Summerville garden, the organization serves a free meal to up to 250 people a month.

When the pandemic hit, they changed course.

The newly implemented, drive-thru model has provided about 9,000 meals since March. They typically average 2,500 per year.”We’ve seen people come on foot, on bike from as far as 35 miles away for food. People are truly struggling right now,” Stagliano said.

In the last decade, the project has grown beyond South Carolina and provides financial support to growers in 31 states and around 100 gardens located in schools and run by youth organizations.

Planting gardens at home

Katie Stagliano, 22, the founder of Katie’s Krops, a Summerville, S.C. based non-profit distributes free meals using vegetables grown in her community garden.

Each garden was set up as a way to provide direct access to fresh produce for families in need within those communities. However, once schools and youth clubs closed due to COVID-19 protective measures, children could no longer gain access to the gardens, she said.

“We would have a single teacher manning a whole community garden,” Stagliano said. “Meanwhile, the need for fresh produce grew tenfold, especially among children who all of a sudden had limited access to the free meals they were typically provided at school.”

Katie’s Krops had amassed donated seed packages that could no longer be sent out to their wide network of traditional community gardens.

That was when Stagliano and her team began shipping seeds to families interested in starting their own backyard gardens as a way to help them feed themselves and their neighbors.

Since the start of the pandemic, they have shipped over 2,100 seed packets to more than 270 families across 23 states, including the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Louisiana.

‘It was like pulling up treasures’

The shift has also created a wave of generosity.

“It’s engaged people from all walks of life to grow some of their own food and share it with their neighbors,” Stagliano said.

Aeden May, 8, pulls up a batch of carrots he planted in a backyard garden at his home in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Aeden, 8, and his brother Maeson May, 10, have watched the garden they planted in their backyard grow since the spring. Maeson recently harvested a bundle of carrots he planted from seed.

“It was like pulling up treasures,” his mother Angela May said.

She wanted her sons to continue thriving and learning despite not being able to go to school in the traditional classroom setting.

The garden was an opportune learning tool.

“We had success. Especially with the kids home from school every day, they got to see the plants grow. I want them to continue feeling inspired,” May said.

Crops For Change: Volunteers Grow Gardens Nationwide To Feed Hungry Families Amidst Coronavirus

DAILY POINT OF LIGHT # 6780 | MAY 20, 2020 |

The average grocery store cabbage weighs a couple of pounds. So when Katie Stagliano grew a 40-pound cabbage in her home garden as a 3rd grader, she knew she had to share the bountiful crop. 275 people fed later at a local soup kitchen, the now 21-year-old Summerville, South Carolina resident says she realized the power of her harvest.

“I brought home this cabbage seedling as part of a school project, and planted it in our backyard, watering and weeding around it every day. Once it grew into a 40-pound cabbage, we knew it was far too big for just my family. It really opened my eyes to hunger. If one cabbage can feed 275 people, imagine how many people an entire garden could feed. That was the inspiration for my volunteerism. I wanted to help feed people in need.”

Launching Katie’s Krops in 2008 with the idea that “it only takes a seedling”, Katie, who serves as founder and chief executive gardener, has inspired hundreds of other gardeners, growing to include vegetable gardens of all sizes in 30 states across the country. Katie’s Krops “Growers”, aged 9-16 from California to Washington to Texas, run gardens in their backyards, school yards, and anywhere they can get permission to grow produce, their healthy harvests donated to help food insecure individuals and families. In total, Katie says 250,000-pounds of produce have been donated since 2008, not just feeding hungry mouths, but also changing the future for thousands of people in the U.S., says Katie’s Krops Grower Ian McKenna, a 15-year-old volunteer from Austin, Texas.

“Katie’s Krops has helped many, many, many people. I’ve grown thousands of pounds of produce to donate to people who are struggling with food insecurity. The food I am bringing them helps in more ways than just feeding them. If a kid receives our food, it helps them with school because I know if I’m at school and I haven’t eaten for awhile, I have trouble focusing. That, by extension, is helping their future.”

Katie Stagliano Daily Point of Light Award Honoree
AS A THIRD-GRADER, KATIE STAGLIANO GREW A 40-POUND CABBAGE IN HER HOME GARDEN, HER DREAM OF GROWING A HEALTHY END TO HUNGER, ONE VEGETABLE GARDEN AT A TIME, STARTING WITH JUST ONE SEEDLING. /COURTESY KATIE STAGLIANO
Feeding some of the more than one in ten U.S. households that experienced food insecurity in 2018 with fresh vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, eggplant, okra and more, Katie says that her dream of growing a healthy end to hunger, one vegetable garden at a time, is slowly becoming a reality.

“When I first began this service, I wasn’t really aware of the issue of hunger, food insecurity and how it affects families. People who have lost their jobs are dealing with medical bills and are worried about putting food on the table. (Katie’s Krops) has opened up my eyes to not only the problems the world is facing but also the amazing people who are passionate about making a difference and the changes we are able to make.”

Those changes are far reaching and yet personal for Katie, who is able to interact with recipients of her fresh vegetables.

Katie Stagliano Daily Point of Light Award Honoree
KATIE’S KROPS IS CONTINUING TO SERVE HUNGRY FAMILIES DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, DISTRIBUTING 2,000 HEALTHY MEALS THUS FAR THROUGH WEEKLY DRIVE-UPS./COURTESY KATIE STAGLIANO

“I met a little girl at an event we hosted at a vacation bible school. The little girl raised her hand and said she didn’t have any questions for me, she just wanted to tell me that I was awesome. She walked up to me with a sticker that said “love” on it, and she gave me a hug and put the sticker on my heart. After all the kids left the room one of the counselors explained to me that the vegetables I’d brought for the event to help feed a homeless family were given to that little girl’s family. The family had been struggling to put food on the table. It’s heartbreaking to see that families just like mine have fallen on hard times and I know the solution starts with just one seedling to start helping these people.”

And now, as she continues her work to end hunger, Katie is adjusting her organization’s offerings to make sure hungry families can still receive food amidst the coronavirus pandemic, swapping what used to be a monthly garden to table dinner for weekly drive-up dinners for her community.

“Since in-person dinners are no longer possible, we are now doing weekly drive-up dinners every Thursday. For the past two months, we’ve been creating the meals and boxing them up for distribution to families in South Carolina. There are so many individuals out of work and out of school and struggling, so we want to be there for them. We’ve been trying to do fun and different meals while also keeping everyone’s meals healthy to keep everyone’s immune systems up. We’ve served two-thousand meals thus far and we will continue doing this for as long as it’s necessary.”

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Katie Stagliano? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Free to-go dinners at the Summerville Family YMCA

On Thursday, April 30th, we will be serving free to-go dinners at the Summerville Family YMCA parking lots located at 208 W. Doty Ave. in Summerville, South Carolina. We will start distributing meals at 5 pm and will end when all are distributed. We do recommend arriving early as the lines have been long in the past few weeks. We plan to prepare 350 to 400 meals.

We ask that all guests stay in their cars and follow the instruction of our volunteers. Please share and help us reach our neighbors in need during these challenging times. We are all in this together. We promise to continue to work to be there for our community. Stay safe!

James – Oklahoma

James, 17, of Oklahoma is our 2019 Grower of the Year. He donated over 800 pounds of the produce he grew to Veterans in his community.

James was inspired to grow with Katie’s Krops to provide fresh produce as a way to honor Veterans for all of their sacrifices to keep us free, to honor seniors for paving the way for his generation, and to help those that have fallen on hard times.

We are incredibly grateful that James has spent the spring and summer sharing his gardening knowledge with his fellow Growers. This summer, James shared his knowledge of garden and growing by writing articles that he shared with his fellow Growers.

Contest Time! Expand Your Garden Library

Congratulations to our winners Hilary & Brandon! We hope to offer more contests in the future.

Contest Time!

Expand Your Garden Library

Looking for fun and inspirational reading in these challenging times? Enter to win a signed copy of Katie’s award-winning children’s book ‘Katie’s Cabbage’ and a copy of Joanna Gaines ‘We Are The Gardeners’. Two people will win copies of both books to expand their garden library. To enter simply complete the entry form below. All entries must be received by midnight on May 2nd. Good luck & stay safe!



Katie’s Krops: Feeding the Lowcountry 1 garden at a time

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD)- A local organization called “Katie’s Krops” has been feeding the Lowcountry for over a decade. With COVID-19 impacting the community, they’ve decided to increase their monthly meal distribution to a weekly basis.

Katie Stagliano’s story is known all over the world. In 2008, 9-year-old Stagliano planted a tiny seedling that grew into a cabbage. This cabbage happened to weigh 40 pounds and fed over 275 people at a local soup kitchen.

“So after I donated my cabbage and I saw how many people it fed, I decided that I wanted to start a garden,” says Stagliano.

Her green thumb soon developed into a passion. She started donating her fresh fruits and veggies to the soup kitchen.

“Our local soup kitchen in our area had to shut their doors due to funding,” she says. “I was really worried about all the people who had been relying on the soup kitchen for food.”

She soon came up with a plan to put her garden to good use. With the help of her friends, a chef, and Summerville Baptist Church, her vision came to life.

“That was the birth of the “Katie’s Krops” dinners. I thought, I have all of these gardens, and they’re filled with vegetables,” says Stagliano.

Once a month, they cook a big sit-down meal and gather at the church. Every plate is made with fresh produce from the multitude of gardens they’ve planted in the Lowcountry.

“We harvested 14 and a half pounds this morning. All fresh from the garden,” says Stagliano’s friend Peyton Kelley, referring to the kale in tonight’s dinner.

Katie’s Krops dinners turned into a 2nd family for Stagliano. She says that these individuals have been able to watch her grow through multiple stages of her life.

With COVID-19 eliminating the possibility for large gatherings, they have started passing out to-go dinners via curbside pickup.

“I’ve actually really enjoyed passing out the meals, through the cars because it gives me a chance to talk to each and every guest that comes through, and it’s been so great during a tough time to see so many familiar faces and interact with some of my favorite people so it’s been really amazing,” says Stagliano.

She has plans to graduate from the College of Charleston this year and take on Katie’s Krops as a full time operation. For more information on hot meal pick-up, click here.