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50 Ways to Outsmart a Squirrel and Other Garden Pests

50 Ways to Outsmart a Squirrel and Other Garden Pests by Simon Akeroyd – Book Review

Discover clever methods for protecting your plants and crops without harming wildlife in this engaging and humorous compendium. Reviewer Catherine Smalley is a nature and garden writer.

by Simon Akeroyd
Mitchell Beazley, £12.99
ISBN 978-1784727604

Across Britain there is a growing movement towards wildlife- friendly gardening and the public are slowly loosening up, learning to embrace 7a more live-and-let-live approach to their outdoor spaces. Nettles are creeping in around the edges, dandelions are popping up from lawns, tomatoes are left unsprayed.

But even the most nature- loving gardener will know the gut-wrenching disappointment of losing a plant they have nurtured over weeks and months to a slug, deer or caterpillar. This book nobly attempts to provide solutions that are eco-friendly and humane, yet – importantly – still effective.

Did you know, for instance, that peppermint will ward off mice? (They rely on their strong sense of smell to detect predators and something pungent makes them feel vulnerable.) Or that growing summer savory next to broad beans will deter black aphids? And it’s not just plants that are covered: there are ways to protect fish from herons and stop squirrels eating your bird seed (it involves chilli…).

The pages are vibrant, filled with illustrations and easy-to- follow, how-to guides, and Akeroyd’s writing is humorous and playful. However, I disliked the language used to describe some animals as ‘pests’ and ‘irritants’ to be ‘outwitted’ and ‘frightened off ’, which reinforces the view of gardens as a battleground between humans and nature.

Overall the approach is holistic and Akeroyd explains the importance of rotating crops and boosting your plants’ health and resilience to help them cope with ‘pests’, as well as encouraging natural predators, such as birds and bats, to control insect numbers. I particularly enjoyed the zoological information on the different animals scattered throughout.

If, in despair and dejection, you’ve been tempted to reach for a bottle of insecticide or order an animal trap, then think again; here’s a whole book of handy tips and tricks.