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Terrified to Start SFG for fear of Pests

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Terrified to Start SFG for fear of Pests

Post  cmagras on 4/1/2010, 10:09 pm

Okay, I'm TERRIFIED to start a SFG because I'm scared all my money and work in creating my garden will go down the drain due to pests. I know this is a fear with ANY garden you start (so this has nothing to do with SFG in particular), I just need some tips and encouragement!

We have squirrels, slugs, bugs, and birds. Probably other things, too, but those are the biggest culprits that I know of where I live. I was thinking of making chickenwire cages and draping netting over them --- Will this be enough to protect my SFG from the above stated fears?

And what if I want to trellis some tomato plants? How do I protect those??? The wire cage only covers the SFG bottom, not the trellis. So how do I protect my vertical garden?

For people who have money to spend I may sound insane. But we can't afford for our SFG to get eaten! We can make the initial investment to start the SFG, but ONLY if it produces enough to save us money in the long run. I REALLY want to start my SFG (for health and financial reasons), but am so scared of these potential dangers that it's keeping me from getting out there and doing it. And I live in Texas so the time to begin is NOW. If I can get some really good advice then I think I'll be confident enough to step out and start. It's just right now I don't feel knowledgeable enough when it comes to protecting it from pests. Please help!!! (oh, and please also be specific in your advice as I am "garden-dumb")



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Re: Terrified to Start SFG for fear of Pests

Post  timwardell on 4/1/2010, 10:13 pm

Hey cmagras,
Those are indeed valid concerns. No one wants their time, effort, and money to go to waste.
Where in Texas are you?
How big and SFG are you considering? (Obviously there are things that can be done to protect a 4x4 that are cost prohibitive on a 4x20 or ten 4x4's.
Do you live in town, the suburbs or a rural area?
Answers to these questions might help me and others address your concerns. Thanks.

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Re: Terrified to Start SFG for fear of Pests

Post  Kabaju42 on 4/1/2010, 10:35 pm

I hear your pain! Especially for the finances. We're on a tight budget, so we're just doing a couple of boxes for now, and the only thing I've bought are the components for Mels' mix and the plants/seeds. I'd recommend you just start with one or two 4x4 boxes for now. That way there isn't as big of a startup expense, and it will be easier for you to work out the kinks. As for the pests, here's what I know, and I'm sure others can help you figure them out too.

Birds: Most birds just eat bugs, so they are acutally helpful.

Bugs: See above

Slugs: If you lay out bare copper wire, it's an effective barrior to slugs (I've even seen copper tape in the nursery for this purpose.) It has something to do with how the slug moves around, and if they crawly over it, it will actually kill them. You can try to scrounge up some old copper wire, remove the insulation, and wrap it around your boxes. It might even make them look nicer.

Squirrels: I haven't dealt with them, but I know others on the fourm have.

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Re: Terrified to Start SFG for fear of Pests

Post  WardinWake on 4/1/2010, 10:55 pm


Depending on the veggies you plan on growing I would not be overly concerned. With a bug ID guide, and there are many on the internet, you should be able to ID what bug may be causing a problem in the garden. For instance tomato leaves being eaten leaving only the spine of the leaf is usually caused by a big fat worm called the tomato horn worm. THW is the same color or a bit lighter than the tomato leaf, but, can be spotted by closely watching the plant. When spotted simply pick off the bugger and use him for fish bait. Once the bugger and his pals are gone the plant will recover rapidly and generally you will still get a full crop.

Most if not all bug problems can be controlled by a product called NEEM oil. It runs about $8.00 per pint but makes 16 gallons and a hand squirt bottle works fine for the small garden. NEEM Oil is one of the safest organic bug sprays around. If you were a certified organic farmer you could use NEEM and still retain your organic certification.

Birds do peck at tomatoes, but, usually are not a problem in the long run. Netting is usually not needed. One of the reasons that supermarket fruits and veggies have been sprayed with insecticides is that we have become spoiled by perfect looking veggies. In nature there is no such thing. Bug bites on most crops are not a big deal as we usually plant more than we need anyway. A worm in an apple? No problem. Eat the other half.

Tell us a little more about your planned garden and we can help more.

God Bless, Ward.

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Re: Terrified to Start SFG for fear of Pests

Post  cmagras on 4/1/2010, 11:27 pm

Thank you all for your help thus far! In response to your questions, I am planning on only doing 1-3 4x4 boxes (all separate). Not sure if all will have a trellis or not, but definitely one will. I figure if my first box (or first few boxes) are successful then we will be able to afford to expand later on.

I live in East Texas, in a neighborhood. We'll be setting up our SFG in our fenced in backyard!


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Re: Terrified to Start SFG for fear of Pests

Post  choksaw on 4/2/2010, 12:37 am

Hello Cmagras and welcome to the forums bugs can be an annoyance but some bugs you want in your garden because they are natures helpers when it comes to the war on bugs. you may not need it but its always a good idea to have your resources ready here is a link to a bug identification website that should answer most of your questions about bugs both good and bad

if not there this link is a huge source for all things buggy

good luck with your garden look forward to seeing some pictures and stories about how your doing

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