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Keeping wildlife out of the garden

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Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Miss Mousie on 3/26/2010, 8:00 pm

Hi,

I'm new to the forum, this is my first garden and I don't want to go through all of the hardships in regards to animals so I'm planning on enclosing my entire garden in a 24' X 24' square 8' tall cage (with top). We are planning to use 1/2" chicken wire on the bottom (floor) and 4' up the walls and 1" chicken wire for the upper half of the walls and top. We are in the pricing it out stage right now. It could get smaller if the price is too much. We live in the foothills in California and we have deer, gophers, rabbits , raccoons, squirrels, wood rats, possums....you name it.

I'm wondering if anyone has built anything similar or if you have any thoughts, comments or advice. Also, am I being dumb to keep out birds (or most birds). I know they can be beneficial in eating insects but I would think they would love to peck the heck out of my tomatoes. The birds have free run of our ancient apple and apricot trees and they peck holes in every piece of fruit that sets. Our neighbors down the road have a garden which is enclosed and I noticed that the top has wire criss-crossed over the top with mylar strips, I'm assuming to keep the birds out.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Miss Mousie

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  boffer on 3/26/2010, 8:09 pm

Hi Miss Mousie,

Welcome to the forum. Several months ago a member asked the question "What veggie can I plant that deer won't eat?" She didn't get any suggestions! There're some regulars on the forum who have quite a bit of experience fighting the same battles you are, and have in the past posted pictures of their set ups. But, I can't find the pics right now, so hopefully they'll be along shortly to help out.

Happy Gardening

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Kabaju42 on 3/26/2010, 9:18 pm

I was just thinking of something similar. I'll be planting seeds tomorrow, and I don't want the birds to eat the seeds before they sprout. We have a bird feeder set up, and I was wondering if that might help distract the birds so they don't eat my seeds. Or will it just attract more birds to eat the seeds?

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  boffer on 3/26/2010, 9:26 pm

Birds I can speak to a little. My feeders are in the front yard, veggies in the back. Jays just love my peas and beans until they're over an inch tall. I have to keep them covered with a light crop cover cloth till then. The rest of the seeds the birds don't seem to pay too much attention to.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  martha on 3/26/2010, 9:36 pm

Oh, Miss Mousie, I LOVE your name! Have you heard Bruce Springsteen sing "Froggy Went a-Courtin' ?"

So, I have been told (not sure I believe it) that birds aren't actually eating the tomatoes, they are eating worms in the tomatoes. Presumably, the tomatoes wouldn't get eaten if there weren't worms, therefore.....

I do know that two years ago (not SFG) the crows and/or grackles were doing a number on my tomatoes. If they were only looking for worms, they were very indelicate in their approach.

If you successfully keep out the critters, the insects will fly in and out at will, so the birds should still have plenty to eat. Every gardener, every book and my own experience say that birds are a mixed blessing.

ps - I meant to add - last year, SFG, birds didn't eat my tomatoes - reason..????



Keep us posted!

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  choksaw on 3/26/2010, 10:33 pm

Only tip i can give is in regards to the gophers if your planting on the natural earth you might want to place some patio paver blocks under your garden box's to prevent them from getting in underneath.

as for the other critters they do make comercial grade critter repelents but i myself have never used them so im not sure if they work or not. Human hair clippings hung in an old pair of nylons is supposed to deter deer from the area. rabbits shouldnt be too much of a problem since the box's are raised beds and not easily accessable to them. squirels and coonc are creative annoying thinkers more then likely they will become your nemisis i havent run into them in my area so i havent fought that battle but im sure some one else here on forums has good luck with the garden and be sure to post up some pics so we can all share in your success

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Miss Mousie on 3/26/2010, 10:47 pm

Thanks for your replies everyone. I'm thinking that deer will like just about every veggie I put out there. So there is no way that I can't at least build a fence around the garden. I'm just not sure about the birds. I've been flipping through Sally Jean Cunningham's book Great Garden companions and she counts the birds as part of her pest control method. Sally Jean recommends putting a bird bath in the garden and says the reason they go after tomatoes is because they need moisture/water. I'm thinking the worm idea is right up there on the list as well.

Now I'm wondering if I should put 1/2" chicken wire instead of 1" on the upper half and top. I don't know if I want the tiny birds to get in.

Oh yeah, the gophers are bad. I think all of the gophers in the county live on our property. We will be putting chicken wire on the floor of the cage and attaching it to the wood all the way around. Then I want to put some pavers down in between the raised beds. The beds themselves have weed cloth and then hardware cloth attached. We did that before we thought about the chicken wire on the floor.

I'm not sure of any of the repellents that I've heard about, I don't know if they really work that well. I was actually trying to avoid the trial and error of it. I'm also guessing that since several people on our road have gardens that are enclosed by high fences that the deer are really a problem.

I'll still be anxious to hear from people who have had experience with wildlife and keeping them out of the garden. I will post pictures when we start building. I know that when I was researching this idea I found almost nothing online that was like what I wanted to do. It was only when I stumbled upon some guys chicken coop design that I was able to visualize it.

Thanks everyone!!

P.S. - Martha, I never made the connection between my forum name and Froggy went a courting......my dad used to sing that to me when I was a little girl (way before Bruce Springsteen ever sang it). That makes it that much more meaningful. Thanks.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Kabaju42 on 3/26/2010, 11:19 pm

Do you know what kind of birds you have?

I just remembered I have friends that know a lot about birds, and we can look them up and tell you if they're going for the fruits or the worms.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Kabaju42 on 3/26/2010, 11:50 pm

We've done some research and it turns out that the American Robin actually eats a lot of fruit, especially in the Rosaceae family (which includes peaches and apples.) Fortunately tomatoes aren't part of the rosaceae family, so they might stay away from them. (No promises though)

Here's a link that you might find interesting. I hope this helps.

http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2007/Frohman/Page02.html

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Mikesgardn on 3/27/2010, 6:02 pm

Here is what I've done to keep out birds, gophers, deer. I used 1" chicken wire supported on pvc hoops. The 1" chicken wire keeps out the birds, but lets in the bees for pollination. This years two blizzards crushed it. I thought the snowflakes would pass through the openings, but nope. So I'm re-building it today.




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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Miss Mousie on 3/27/2010, 6:09 pm

Very nice Mike. How do you get in there to pull weeds (if you have any) or harvest? That's an interesting idea, probably cost a lot less than what I'm planning. I'll show it to my husband.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  chocolatepop on 3/27/2010, 6:11 pm

that is awesome mike

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Mikesgardn on 3/27/2010, 6:15 pm

@Miss Mousie wrote:Very nice Mike. How do you get in there to pull weeds (if you have any) or harvest? That's an interesting idea, probably cost a lot less than what I'm planning. I'll show it to my husband.

If you look closely, the first hoop is right next to another hoop that has a pvc pipe along the bottom. This hoop is not attached to the ground, so it can be lifted away. I use pieces of electrical wire as wire ties to attach it to the first hoop. I just untie the ties to detach it.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  choksaw on 3/27/2010, 9:20 pm

Nice design Mike i hope you can figure out a way to reinforce it for next winter

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Deer-proof garden

Post  Dan on 3/31/2010, 2:19 pm

I have a terrible deer problem. Suburb bordering the city where there are tons of deer. I would never be able to grow anything unless it's protected.

Last year I built a chicken wire cover like the one in the SFG book. It worked very well at keeping the deer out, however, it was difficult to remove and replace, especially once things started really growing. And it was destroyed this winter witha the heavy snow we got.

So this year I improved things by creating a 'fence' with 2 doors on hinges.



I have a blog where I plan to chronicle my progress. I'll let you know how this works. http://deerproofgarden.blogspot.com/

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Squirrel-proof domes?

Post  brake4squirrels on 3/31/2010, 2:41 pm

Hi there -

(Ironically, although I have a soft-spot for squirrels (see username), this post is very anti-squirrel! haha!)

I'm working on setting up 5 square foot gardening boxes. Last season I had a big problem with squirrels in my containers. I had several nice red tomatoes growing just waiting for the perfect time to be picked... but every day I would notice another one half-eaten laying on the other side of the yard. I actually caught a squirrel with one of my tiny eggplants in hand, taking bites out of it like a sub sandwich.

So I'm pretty sure I'm battling squirrels here. I have no deer problem because I'm living in a big city.

I'm trying to set up domes with PVC pipes. Mel shows these in his book as a way to protect against frost. The plan is to cover them with a flexible netting like what is used on the trellises. I want to make sure the holes are big enough for pollinators, but too small for squirrels.

All you advanced gardeners out there --- is such a netting available in stores? will this work, or am I dreaming? What do you suggest I do to fix this squirrel problem?

THANK YOU for your insight!!

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Miss Mousie on 3/31/2010, 2:42 pm

That's a nice design, Dan. I'm sure that will keep the critters out of your garden. I think the reason I was thinking of a cage is because I wanted to have the required space around each bed to be able to tend to the garden (pull weeds, harvest). I'm sure my plan sounds kind of "out there" but I'm hopeful that it will work. We will hopefully begin work on it in mid April. We are having a visit from my mom and when she leaves I think we will start putting the plan into motion and I will take lots of pictures.

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Netting for squirrels

Post  Chopper on 5/9/2010, 11:35 pm

Wouldn't bird netting do the trick? Or is it too lightweight? Not sure if squirrels wouldn't gnaw through it.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Mikesgardn on 5/10/2010, 9:28 am

1" chicken wire/poultry netting will let the pollinators in, and will keep out birds and animals. If the netting will be put up permanently, go with the metal version. If you will be taking it down, they make a plastic version that you can find at the big box hardware stores. Last year, I used the metal chicken wire, and it worked well until we had a blizzard that crushed the hoop house. This year, I am using the plastic chicken wire so that I can remove it in the fall, and roll it up. This stuff can be easily attached to 1/2" pvc pipes with large binder clamps. The only downside is that an animal with teeth could bite through it. We'll see.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Odd Duck on 5/10/2010, 11:25 am

I thought I was having a squirrel problem with my tomatoes last year, until we saw the mockingbirds jumping into the middle of the tomato plants and going after them.

And since they were the first tomatoes I'd grown in about 20 years, I was very proud and I was checking the tomatoes twice daily. I'm QUITE certain there were no worms involved. The birds starting pecking at them the first time once the first tomato was ripe, but after they "found" them, they would start at the first hint of orange.

Bird netting kept everything safe after that, and still seemed to let the pollinators in just fine. I got the netting froma big box store - pretty cheap, too.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  plb on 5/11/2010, 10:05 am

This morning I went out to check on my two SFG boxes, and I found plenty of damage... Some animal had walked all over my young, fragile spinach plants, damaging most of them, and dug out almost the whole square where yesterday I had seeded some arugula. I'm soooo annoyed... I first though about a cat (we have fences all around the garden, so bigger animals would not be able to come in) but reading this post I wonder if a squirrel might be the culprit; I saw one a couple of days ago, and the square that was dug out was covered with two wooden slats that left very little room to get to the soil. I had put those to protect the square from cats, while waiting for the seeds to sprout.
Another lesson learned... I didn't cover this box because I want to plant tomatoes and pole beans in it, but next year I'll get more boxes for the things that need a trellis, and cover everything else. The other box, that has hoops and an insect cover, is for the moment safe from damage...
It wouldn't be too bad if I had more stuff planted, but with just 24 squares in total having a few destroyed does make a difference!

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It's almost done

Post  Miss Mousie on 8/5/2010, 4:04 am

Many of you may remember this post of mine that I started months ago. I was wondering how to keep deer and other critters out of my garden. Many of you have posted some great ideas too. I just wanted to go one step further....... The cage is 24 X 24 and 8ft tall. Totally enclosed by galvanized 1/2" or 1" chicken wire (top and bottom too, although in this pic the top isn't done yet).

Here is the result. The pics show the garden in total shade but it actually gets full sun from sunup to about 4:00pm





I've totally missed the spring/summer planting season but I hope to be able to get a few things in and perhaps some fall veggies.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  Icemaiden on 8/5/2010, 7:27 am

That's what I call a fence! Not much getting through that is there?
Good luck with your next crop.

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

Post  boffer on 8/5/2010, 10:04 am

good job!

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IT'S ALMOST DONE

Post  junequilt on 8/5/2010, 12:25 pm

Wow. now that is a cage -- on steroids! Great work! I can just imagine critters gazing in at all the wonderful plants you're going to be growing. Is that landscape fabric I see on the ground?

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Re: Keeping wildlife out of the garden

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