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Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

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Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  dutchstar on 4/28/2015, 10:34 am

This is my second year as a Square Foot Gardener, and my first year with starting seeds indoors.  Last year I had built two 4x4 beds, 12" high, each with a trellis on the north side.  I started plants in the garden in late May, and while a bunch of my crops did great, I was heartbroken when i found that my heirloom tomates, cukes, etc were stolen.  I rigged up a makeshift fence with T-posts and some 4' wire fencing, and spent the rest of the summer repeatedly frustrated when it kept happening.  I have spent the winter cultivating an intense hatred of garden pests and working on plans to fix the problem.

We have also expanded the SFG now - I wanted to add another 4x4, but space and my wife's wishes resulted instead in a fusion of the two 4x4s and inclusion of the adjacent and intervening space into one long 4x12 bed.  My plans were to place my trellises at the far north end, and then every 4 feet after (so a total of 3 trellises). 

I currently have a few squares of garlic which i planted in the fall and which are now growing like crazy, and I was so happy to transplant my first indoor seed starts last weekend - a square of scallions and two squares of two different types of onions...and the next morning, i saw that something had been digging in the bed, and had unearthed one of my scallions - but there was no sign that it had eaten anything (onions/scallions/garlic).  I replanted the poor scallion in my grid, and this morning the beds appear untouched.

I know for sure that one of the culprits last year was a groundhog (I saw him in the act).  The beds are along the back border of our property and i think he's got an apartment under our neighbor's shed which is just on the other side of their fence.  My anti-groundhog strategy for this year is to take the fence and drop it a foot underground to prevent him digging in.  But my concern now is that i'm dealing with a diverse population of garden bandits - maybe a squirrel dug up my scallion? the fence had no signs of dig-under, and a rabbit couldnt have hopped over, but a squirrel could easily hop off the nearby wood fence into the garden space.

Which leads me to my question - how do I effectively block whatever critters are invading?  I'm securing the bottom of the fence against any tunnelers, but what's the best way of keeping these jerks from hopping in over the top?  I considered the wire mesh cover from the SFG book, but i'm not sure how to make that work for my long 4x12 beds - and the idea of having several covers of several different heights is not really feasible - i don't have that much storage space for when they're not in use.  The "covered wagon" support might be more do-able, with supports along the length of the garden, but the shape isnt amenable to my squared off trellises.  I guess I could have a cover like that for a while and then remove it and plug in the trellises, but again i'm stuck with the problem of exposure.  I considered covering the top of my fence with some netting - which might be the easiest solution, if it will work, but I do have some corn that gets pretty tall and might make that difficult. 

I'm not averse to using some other kind of natural pest deterrent like the garlic/cayenne spray option, but definitely nothing synthetic/chemical.  I have also considered using a motion-sensor sprinkler which has helped us with deer in the past, but i'm not sure it woudl catch the small movements of a squirrel.

Anyway, whatever advice you folks can add will be appreciated.  I did review netting - Squirrels, Wire cages, and Trellis on one end--what to do?!]This previous post and wanted to see if anyone had other good ideas, and specifically if anyone else had dealt with this situation with a 4x4 bed.

Thanks!!

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/28/2015, 11:32 am

Hardware cloth beneath your beds would help with tunneling critters.  However, I think that perhaps an ultrasonic stake or two might help deter them.  I have one on order from Amazon.  

As to the 12'-long trellis, I have one of those, and I simply cannot reach several of the squares once the taller crops have grown.

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  Mikesgardn on 4/28/2015, 4:24 pm

As shown in my avatar, I resorted to building a hoop house that I cover with nylon netting to keep out animals.  The bottom portion of the netting is chicken wire to keep out the ones that gnaw.  The hoops are big enough to go over the trellis, and it allows me to walk inside.  It's not strong enough to handle snow, so I have to roll up the netting in the winter, but the hoops stay out.  I also use it to support shade netting in the summer.

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  dutchstar on 4/29/2015, 10:15 am

Thanks for the feedback! 

Mikesgardn - great photo, are you able to post a larger version so i can see the details?

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  Mikesgardn on 4/29/2015, 5:46 pm


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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/29/2015, 6:33 pm

Mike, that's a serious hoop house. Shocked Whatta beauty! Do you ever put plastic over it and use it for greenhouse in the cooler weather?

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  Mikesgardn on 4/29/2015, 7:19 pm

No, I don't think it could handle the wind or snow.  The hoops are only 1/2" pvc.  Also, my garden is shaded in the winter anyway.  Here is what a little late March snow did when I just had netting on it.  I had to get in there and knock the snow off!

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  sanderson on 4/30/2015, 1:54 pm

Dutchstar, I can't remember if I welcomed you to this site. So . . . Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here

12' of trellis on the north side of a 12' long bed will make it difficult to reach anything on the other side. It's better to just have two 4' at the 2 north ends like you probably had when it was just 2 4' x 4' boxes. Just want to spare you some grief.


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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  jimmy cee on 4/30/2015, 11:41 pm

Since I finished this 4 X 5 bed I've had no critters get in. Ground hogs are another item.  There are usually 2 holes for 1 tunnel. Find 1 and block it, then a special bomb in the other will eliminate anything in the hole.
I had on under my deck, he ate 9 full broccoli plants at one sitting..I got a blanket and lied down, waited for him to come out, when he did I got him right in the head with a pellet gun.
The bomb works good if you can locate that other hole.

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  littlesapphire on 5/1/2015, 9:56 am

OMG, mike, what a beautiful idea!  Really makes me long for a hoop house...

I mostly deal with deer, rabbits, and cats in my garden.  My first two years, I tried lots of small fences to keep them out, but nothing worked.  Finally, I had to put up a 5-1/2 foot tall fence around the whole thing.  It's just t-posts with deer netting all the way around, with a gate in the front.



I don't have any experience with groundhogs, though Sad  except to say that my MIL had to battle it out with one living under her porch.  They're persistent!  She probably put 500 pounds of rocks, bricks and cement into its holes and it just kept coming back.

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  Mikesgardn on 5/1/2015, 5:20 pm

That fence should work for deer, cats, and rabbits.  I also had problems with squirrels, so I figured a hoop would be best for me, and being able to drape shade cloth over it in the summer has really helped keep the plants from wilting while I'm at work.   For groundhogs, I use a Havahart trap, and then I relocate them.

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

Post  mollyhespra on 5/1/2015, 10:51 pm

I live in the middle of a woodchuck commune.  I kid you not; there are easily a dozen or more dens within 30' of my house.   The closest one is about 5' from my garden.  It's impossible to get them or block them all.  And don't let me get started on Mr. Deer, Mr. Skunk, Mr. 'Coon or Mr. Bear. (I'm guessing it was a skunk that dug up your bulbs.  They like to do that kind of thing.)

We dealt with the problem of being the neighborhood all-you-can-eat-salad-bar by getting a tall deer fence.  The bottom foot of fencing isn't buried, but angled at 90 degrees towards the outside of the fence.  I've secured the bent part with landscape staples every 4" and put some mulch over that.  I can tell you it works because I've seen the evidence of Mr. Frustrated 'Chuck trying to dig into the fence and getting thwarted by it.  He isn't clever enough to move back a foot and try again.  He just keeps going for where the vertical fence touches the ground. The top foot or so of fencing is left loose so that when Mr. 'Chuck decides to go for a climb, the weight of  his chubby little butt bends the fencing down and he falls off.  I imagine the same thing would happen with racoons.  So far, so good.  It's been three years.

That being said the worse varmint I had to deal with last year was Mr. Chipmunk.  Damnable Chippy is small enough to squeeze through the individual hexes of the fencing.  He decimated my strawberries last year, and I was worried he'd get into the rest of my veggies but that (thankfully) never happened.  I tried putting bird netting over the berries and while it helped some, Chippy still chewed his way through and got in.  This year, I think the neighbor's cat has taken care of that problem because I haven't seen a single chipmunk.. 

As to squirrels, they haven't been an issue, even though we have plenty of them.

So, my suggestion would be to get a fence, even if it's not crazy-tall; so long as the bottom is bent outwards and the top can flop the critter down that tries to climb, you should be good.

HTH & good luck!

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Re: Physical Pest Barrier for 4x12 SFG bed with multiple trellises - help please!

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