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how to mix a good habenaro pepper / soap spray to deter the nibblers?

 
Susan Doyon
Posts: 146
Location: Massachusetts
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last year we started having more trouble with garden nibblers they went from sharing a bit once in a while to eating most of my pea vines and much of our squash including both the leaves and fruit . as well as eating all the leaves off of the kohlrabi and much of the sweet potato.
I am already seeing loss of a third of a row of pea plants so I want to try a deterrent . I ordered 2 lbs of habenaro pepper powder . I am looking for recipes for either a hose end sprayer or a 2 gallon pump sprayer . not sure if it is squirrels, ground hog, raccoon, rabbit or deer ( we have all on the property ) last year I tried straight tabasco pepper liquid on the squash that was bitten but the critter came back and finished it pepper and all . So this year I went for a stronger pepper . looking for amounts and prep ideas and how much of what type soap to make it stick . I do not want to kill the critters I just want to make the garden taste bad to them so I get to harvest some .
 
John Elliott
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The problem is how to make it stick -- a light rain, or a heavy dew in the morning and all your spraying work is for naught. If you have a wand on your sprayer and can spray the undersides of the leaves, that might help. A few drops of soap in the spray solution helps to make the sauce spread over the leaves.

Another thing that might help is to plant some mustard. The red Korean variety has some major hotness to it, and nibblers will stay away from it. The heat is different from the capsicum found in hot peppers, so it may complement and not interfere with the habanero if put in the same spray solution. With hot peppers, nibblers learn that it is just the peppers that are hot, and so they will even munch away at the leaves of a habanero plant, carefully avoiding the little orange bombs. With mustard they can't do that, the whole plant is hot; the leaves, the stems, the seeds, the roots, they just avoid the whole plant. If you grow enough of that so that you can crush a few leaves into your watering can, then you can make the whole garden reek of mustard hotness (it's a good thing we humans have insensitive noses) and the nibblers will find someplace else to graze.

Another benefit of planting mustard is that the chemical responsible for its heat also kills Fusarium wilt fungus that may be living in the soil. I like using mustard as a cover crop for that reason, and if you ever have too much of it growing, you can always make a big pot of sarson ka saag from it:



Another difference between mustard and habanero is that after cooking, the heat of the mustard goes away, while the habanero heats up whatever you cook with it.
 
Susan Doyon
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Location: Massachusetts
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I will look for some mustard seed I am thinking I would need to plant it with every thing . that cook is very enthusiastic , I will try that recipe ( we had authentic curry tonight , my sons room mate is from india and sends me home made vegatarian curry)
but still need to pepper spray as the other plants are already up

I ordered ground habenaro powder to be sure I can mix a nasty spray that the critters will hate the taste of I am hoping the snails and slugs will also hate it ) ! , I know I will have to spritz the plants a couple times a week but I hope to get some butternut this year last year the critters ate every one and ate the leaves . I think the tank sprayer will work best so I can get under the leaves . I just need a good idea how much soap and how much pepper powder per gallon water

 
John Elliott
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Susan Doyon wrote: I just need a good idea how much soap and how much pepper powder per gallon water



Taste it. If it's too hot for you, it will be too hot for rabbits, deer, etc. Humans have a higher tolerance for hot peppers than other mammals, some of us rather enjoy it. After you are satisfied that you have a wicked batch of soup, you can add a few drops of soap. Maybe a teaspoon of liquid soap per gallon of water.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thanks for the great suggestion and info, John. Can you clarify, does planting the peppers alone deter the nibblers ambiently or is it only if you spray with it too? if you're not watering cause your'e such a mac-daddy permaculturist that you're like "irrigation? I don't need no stinkin' irrigation!" then won't that undermine the making-less-work aspect of things? also what frequency of spray do you find necessary for deterring the univited dinner guests? and are there other solutions you might pursue such as planting more of what they do like (rattle snakes are not an option in my situation, client has an suburban yard and would not be interested in discussion of virtues of snakes at this time! thanks much!



John Elliott wrote:The problem is how to make it stick -- a light rain, or a heavy dew in the morning and all your spraying work is for naught. If you have a wand on your sprayer and can spray the undersides of the leaves, that might help. A few drops of soap in the spray solution helps to make the sauce spread over the leaves.

Another thing that might help is to plant some mustard. The red Korean variety has some major hotness to it, and nibblers will stay away from it. The heat is different from the capsicum found in hot peppers, so it may complement and not interfere with the habanero if put in the same spray solution. With hot peppers, nibblers learn that it is just the peppers that are hot, and so they will even munch away at the leaves of a habanero plant, carefully avoiding the little orange bombs. With mustard they can't do that, the whole plant is hot; the leaves, the stems, the seeds, the roots, they just avoid the whole plant. If you grow enough of that so that you can crush a few leaves into your watering can, then you can make the whole garden reek of mustard hotness (it's a good thing we humans have insensitive noses) and the nibblers will find someplace else to graze.

Another benefit of planting mustard is that the chemical responsible for its heat also kills Fusarium wilt fungus that may be living in the soil. I like using mustard as a cover crop for that reason, and if you ever have too much of it growing, you can always make a big pot of sarson ka saag from it:



Another difference between mustard and habanero is that after cooking, the heat of the mustard goes away, while the habanero heats up whatever you cook with it.
 
John Elliott
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Thanks for the great suggestion and info, John. Can you clarify, does planting the peppers alone deter the nibblers ambiently or is it only if you spray with it too?


Pepper plants have no deterrent ability. Nibblers will even chow down on your pepper plants, carefully leaving the hot bombs alone. You need to beak into the peppers and release the capsicum to have a deterrent effect. Same with garlic, it has very little odor until cells are broken.

I have some pots with seeds I want to start and so since I have a surplus of hot peppers, I am adding shredded hot peppers to the mulch on top of the pots. I am going to get the lesson out to the squirrel community that black plastic pots mean nasty tasting seedlings. I also break a chile pequin and a garlic clove into the watering can I use to give the seedlings a drink in the evening.
 
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