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Box traps effective in nabbing raiding raccoons

Q: I read with interest your reply to the party from Kindred (N.D.) who was having problems with raccoons raiding the sweet corn in their garden. In the reply, you said they might try live trapping the raccoons, but felt they were too smart to fa...

Q: I read with interest your reply to the party from Kindred (N.D.) who was having problems with raccoons raiding the sweet corn in their garden. In the reply, you said they might try live trapping the raccoons, but felt they were too smart to fall for that. You have offered me good advice in the past, so perhaps the time has come for me to offer you some in exchange.

Beginning four years ago, I had big troubles with raccoons. Lights didn't deter them and radios just supplied dance music for a 2 a.m. snack! With the garden only 150 feet from the house, a bird cannon would scare me more than the raccoons, so that was out!

The next year I decided to fix their wagon. I bought an electric fence and watered the soil to insulate the ground. I cut the grass down to an inch high and kept it there with a string trimmer. I ran a wire 8 inches above the ground and then leaned back to enjoy the coons' surprise! However, I was the one surprised because it did not slow the coon traffic. I then added another wire 16 inches off the ground and a bit later a grounded wire between the two hot wires at 12 inches.

To my great surprise, the raccoons acted as though the fence wasn't there. I then thought the fence was defective, so I put my finger on the wire and quickly dismissed that thought!

Roasting ear stage was ending, but the coons had harvested more than I had! I then learned that there was a federal wildlife agent stationed at the little town of McLeod, about 25 miles east of Lisbon. He said we should try to catch them in box traps. At the time, I felt much as you did, that they were too smart to fall for that trick. The agent had two traps, so he set them up for me and showed me how to reset them if I caught any raccoons. I soon trapped three of them before they quit eating my corn.


I had to return his traps, so I bought three of my own last year. I soon caught them by the dozen! I even caught four coons in three traps one night; two were in one of the traps. The size of the trap is 11 inches by 11 inches and 33 inches deep. The next smaller trap is too small. This year I had corn pulled down by coons twice, about two weeks apart. Each time I had a coon in the trap, so concluded that I had the guilty party!

Raccoons definitely can be caught using box traps. In fact, it's the only way I had any success. The agent advised that I bait them with eggs or canned cat food, but I've come up with a better way to bait the trap. I have my wife collect all the drippings from the griddle when she fries bacon. I then bought a new pump oilcan. Coons locate the bait by scent and bacon fat odor carries farther than anything else and is not lost during a rain. I drip a trail for 2 to 3 feet outside the trap and stick the spout through the welded wire of the trap at the far end where the trigger is located. (Nome, N.D.)

A: Thanks for an interesting and entertaining story on coon trapping! Glad to know what works!

Q: I have a question about horseradish. The roots, instead of being white, have brown streaks. The larger roots are partially gone and filled with brown scales that are turning soft and rotting, but the plant is not dying. The leaves are growing as usual. I would appreciate it if you would let me know what my problem is.

A: I'm sorry, but horseradish is something that I never have grown and consequently know very little about. I checked my herbal and vegetable references, but found nothing listed that addresses your problem. I'm sure a reader of the column will be able to answer your questions. When that happens, we'll forward the information to you.

Q: I left my cactus plant next to the wood burner one night.

The side that was next to the burner has turned yellow and dark brown. Can I save the plant by cutting off these parts?

The main stem is not affected.


A: You didn't identify what kind of cactus you have, but that makes little difference. Go ahead and cut out the damaged part back to undamaged tissue. It should callous over and seal the wound over a reasonable period.

Q: How do you get rid of mold on the top layer of dirt on a houseplant?

A: The mold is harmless and will not cause problems. If it has been a while since you repotted, this would be a good time to do so. If you are not interested in this, get a small hand cultivator and break up the surface to improve air penetration.

Q: Have you any ideas for root and carrot storage? We have a dirt floor under the house. The temperature is around 55 to 60 degrees, but 40 degrees is recommended.

A: Carrots need as close to 100 percent humidity as possible and temperatures ranging from 32 to 40 degrees or as low as possible without freezing. Higher temperatures accelerate decay. They should not be stored in plastic bags because it will accelerate decay. For more than you would ever want to know about carrot and other vegetable storage, go to the online version of the USDA Agricultural Handbook at www.ba.ars.usda.gov/hb66/co ntents.html. Scroll down on the contents until you come to the carrot section. Click on that and download the three pages of specific information on carrot storage. There also is information on many other vegetables and fruits.

Q: What does "water sparingly" mean regarding hoya plants? I have two plants. One never has bloomed, but I was told it takes seven years for it to bloom. I am not sure if that is true. The other plant, I believe, is a Bella. It has bloomed once, and for once, my husband was excited about flowers and their beauty. After it bloomed, the leaves began to wither, but only on the stems that bloomed. What am I doing wrong?

A: Water sparingly means to allow the soil to dry completely between waterings and then only apply enough water to wet the upper inch or so. Watering thoroughly means that when the soil dries, add enough water to have it flow out the bottom of the container and not allow the soil to dry completely, such as you would during the winter months.

The plant probably needs more direct light, either sunlight or lights specific for flowering houseplants. Light is the determinant for a plant to produce flowers. Energy from light is stored in a plant's vegetative tissue and used for re p roductive p ur p oses. Since the one plant has flowered, it is now in a rest period, so be patient and water sparingly through the winter.


Q: I have Norway pines lining my driveway. It has been my experience that when I trim a branch, the entire branch will die. I need to trim these pines, but I don't want all the branches to die. Is there something I can do to keep the branches from dying?

A: With pines, it all depends on timing. Trim in the spring as the "candle" growth emerges and before the new needles completely unfold. This is what is trimmed or cut back. If you cut back farther, as you have found out, the branches usually die. As most pines mature, they tend to lose lower branches to expose the trunk. If these are the branches you have trimmed, console yourself to the fact that they would eventually die and fall off anyway. Go to www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/ plantsci/trees/h1036w.htm for more information on pruning.

Q: I purchased a large number of bulbs this fall, but was only able to plant a small number of them. I saw your response to another question that the bulbs can't be saved for another year. Do you have any suggestions about what to do with them?

Could they be planted in pots and placed outdoors during the winter? Could they be placed in pots in the basement and transplanted in the spring?

A: At this stage, go ahead and plant them in pots or containers. Place them in as cool a location as possible, even outdoors. Under straw mulch on the north side of your house would be ideal. Then as spring approaches and temperatures climb, you can uncover them and enjoy the blooms wherever you want. You can try keeping them separately in the crisper of your refrigerator until the frost leaves the ground (they'll likely be sprouted by then) and then plant them. I'm afraid that if you planted them in pots and placed them in the basement, they would blast into bloom and be wasted, along with being a mess to clean up.

Gardening or houseplant questions can be

directed to: Hortiscope, Box 5051, NDSU

Extension Service, Fargo, ND 58105 or



Note to e-mail correspondents: please identify

your location (city and state) for most

accurate recommendations.

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