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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Animal pests in the garden

Since I live in a relatively urban area, we don't get a whole lot of large garden pests. Sure, we get the occasional coyote and bear that has wandered off the Cascade corridor, but they usually don't stop for snacks in the backyard.

Raccoons are about the only problem around here (besides those damn Siamese cats), but they stick to the garbage cans rather than bothering with actual food plants, probably because the garbage and food waste bins are far more productive than picking off a few berries here and there.

I'm always fascinated by all the trouble people go through in order to keep animal pests from eating their edible plants. Even the birds around here don't bother me or my blueberry bushes and cherry trees. Perhaps there's just too much native vegetation to compete with it or they just don't bother since there's a p-patch about a block away from my house (as the crow flies).

So, tell me. Amuse me, if you will. What animals do you fight with for your hard-earned food crops and what do you do to you try to keep them out garden?

31 comments:

queenoftheclick said...

cats!

I'm a city dweller.

Katy said...

Armadillos.

Just trying to be green said...

Well, I would be fighting a lot of raccons and such, but the dogs scare the lot of them away.

Wonder-ful said...

The animals don't fight over the garden... they fight over the dog food.

It's the dog, a blue bird, and a random rabbit that has wandered through the yards in our suburban neighborhood for the past few months. The rabbit can no longer go through the fence from our yard to the neighbor's bigger (accessable) garden, so he grabs stuff from the dog's dish. It's actually funny to watch the bird do this too.

Brian Kaller said...

I'm in Ireland, and we are spared racoons or opossums. Our big threat is cows wandering in and eating the crops.

Jenette said...

The neighbors cats eat our tomatoes and bees :( We live near a creek and also get lots of birds in our strawberries and tomatoes.

Cage Free Family said...

Our biggest garden threat is the elk herds. That and the mid July freezes...

Cat J B said...

Possums for us.

knutty knitter said...

The hens like strawberries. Otherwise only insects really.

viv in nz

Green Owl Garden said...

A six foot fence has kept out the deer for the last eight years, but the garden is still visited by rabbits and a plump family of woodchucks.

Each season I plan to dig a few inches into the earth and plant some netting to keep them from burrowing through. Maybe this year.

But I don't mind sharing some.

www.greenowlgarden.blogspot.com

shesaserging said...

I'm out of the far edge of the suburbs.... we have birds eat our berries, a whole family of rabbits that live under the shed that eat seedlings to the ground, squirrels that dig up plants and eat tomatoes, and chipmunks that dig tunnels under the garden. Needless to say, I don't get much of anything from my garden. I'll be trying a hanging tomato planter this year, but I don't have an answer for most of the other problems.

Old Wise One said...

Armadillos give my garden and flower beds hell. I guess they like it because our ground is so hard and my garden and beds are made of compost and full of earthworms.

Mike
Baton Rouge

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Deer and elk in the garden, bobcats in the chickens, & cougars eating livestock.

Heidi said...

Our dogs love to play in the garden. We have raised beds and I had to put a cage over the top.

Chile said...

I voted, even though my choices were only conjecture based on what we've seen so far at our new place (moving next week) and knowledge of what critters are likely to be in the area. My answer got too long so I'm gonna toss it up on my blog.

KatieB said...

Armadillos and deer are by far the biggest pests to having a garden. Deer will eat anything and the armadillos root up everything.

Shannon Hillinger said...

Moles and brown slugs. I'm just east of you in Kirkland, and if I'm not really careful, the slugs will eat all the broccoli I plant. They will also perform ridiculous maneuvers to get to the lettuce. I have a friend who has to plant her lettuce in hanging baskets or the slugs eat it all.

Farmer's Daughter said...

On the farm, there's a corn cannon and scare crow to keep birds out of the corn. We also have coyotes, but the dogs chase them away. Duke knows how to open the door to the house, so when he hears coyotes (or has any other reason to go outside) he lets himself out.

As for deer, we used to have a pet deer named Bambi and then she jumped the fence and lived on the farm. We saw her with twin fawns the next year, so we just assume all deer on our farm are descendents of Bambi and we don't really bother them. They tend to eat the apples that fell on the ground anyway. And sometimes they munch bites out of pumpkins.

Greenpa said...

Woodchucks and groundhogs are the same critter. Simply appalling, the holes in our educational systems these days!

:-)

Wendy said...

We get deer, but usually only in the winter when there isn't much for them to eat anyway. My grandparents live in an area with lots of deer and elk and those herds can come through and eat EVERYTHING.

*jean* said...

cats for me too! hate them outside...they need to be on a pillow, inside, watching out the window!

i've always had good luck with hot pepper spray...hot water, a little palmolive and lots of cayenne pepper...spray on when the water is cooled, repeat after rain. i always cover my berries and grapes with netting.. and marigolds planted around the border of your garden helps to keep bunnies out...i know this sounds funny but i also bought a bunch of rubber snakes, placed them around my garden with their heads propped up with a small rock...i've always had good luck and plenty of veg in my gardens..

i also used to make a scarecrow every year that we called mrs. slocum...if you hang CD's off the arms, it will help deter pests with the movement. i've also heard that deer don't like human hair nor certain soaps

Robj98168 said...

City dweller here. Sammy Cat made his first kill of the year.

Sibce when don't you have rats in Ballard??? I seen lots of rats in the bars there!

Condo Blues said...

City dweller here. My biggest pest was Japanese Beetles. They laid eggs in the roots of the spirea planted in my front yard. Then I had to contend with grubs AND beetles which don't have any natural predictors in the US. I had to go with the last resort of yanking everything from the front flower beds, dosing everything with Milky Spore and let it go dormant for a year. Now I have that easy to care for landscaping the builder promised. Nothing's growing. I guess that makes it easy to care for.

Lisa said...

Well ... since you asked ... we live in a small town with lots of nature in the surrounds. Our animal pests include raccoons, insects, rabbits, moles, birds, squirrels, and deer. They all do a great deal of damage and we use fencing, cages, netting, and other chemical-free means to "coexist." Probably the greatest damage comes from insects like the Japanese beetle or slugs, so I try to encourage as many predators of these pests (i.e. birds, spiders) into our yard as possible.

Dale said...

I can't believe that gophers are only at 8%. And no moles?The deer could jump our fence if they chose to, but probably the dogs keep most large above ground critters away. Our Tree Walker Hound is in absolute heaven when she gets a rare opportunity to howl at a raccoon that she got to run up a tree.
Gophers and moles are a constant problem and it isn't a matter of keeping them away. I have never found a successful method of doing that. I don't enjoy it but rodent control has to be lethal and it doesn't involve poison bait. I shoot the moles when I get the opportunity and gas the gophers with sulfur.
My biggest problem used to be our chickens, but their somewhat curtailed "free range" solved that problem.

Kate in NY said...

Has anyone mentioned fox (foxes? no, that doesn't seem right). We are getting chickens in May, and fox will probably be our biggest threat. We are about an hour north of NYC - outer suburbia, I guess, though last week I saw a baby coyote wandering around the back garden! Armadillos . . . now that seems exotic!

Kate

Nonie said...

Last year the raccoons ate more than half the peaches off our tree. My then-3-year-old son was NOT pleased. Then the coons came back and ate ALL the grapes. He was a *very* unhappy boy. We trapped the raccoons (caught 4, then an accidental opossum) and they were taken to a tallow recyclery (sp?). Over the winter another raccoon moved into the crawlspace under our house. Trapped it, too, and another accidental opossum, and off to the recyclery they went.

I would have preferred not to hurt the opossums, but once they're caught it's kinda hard to approach the cage and let them out. I would have preferred not to catch the raccoons, but we'd actually like to eat our peaches and grapes.

Now that (for the moment, anyway) the wildlife is under control ... I'm setting up a 'scarecrow' watering device to try to keep the @%*#$& cats out of the garden. They're treating the new mulch as a litterbox and it's beyond gross.

A dog might solve the problem of both the coons and the cats ... someday when the kids are old enough to clean up after it and walk it ... :)

Prairiemom said...

Birds are the worst! After 5 years of struggling with them I finally figured out to cover my berries with burlap. It was so annoying to have all these beautiful strawberries, only to discover that there was a single peck mark out of most of them.
They have also managed to steal every last red wiggler out of my compost bin.

Anonymous said...

cougars, deer, elk & turkeys (only one raccoon in 5 years.
fence, dog, rifle.

ravens would eat chicks/ducklings/eggs if they could - the dog chases them away.

If we get rabbits or serious raccoons I'll give up.

Sarah said...

I live in a small town in BC, Canada and we get bears. They eat our apples and pears but I beat them to the plums last year. They also push over the compost even though we don't put anything remotely edible in it.
Last year a mother bear was up the apple tree munching away and not tossing any apples down to her cub so he ate my fall lettuce. That really ticked me off.

SStraw said...

I'm in a rural area of Sonoma County, which is about an hour North of San Francisco (if you're driving ).

The three major garden pests we have are Deer (chiefly in the spring), Wild Turkeys (roving clusters of up to about _60_ of them, which devastate juvenile plants and produce a lot of sticky fecal matter), and gophers.

This year, I drove a series of 1.5" white PVC pipes into the ground around my circa 4K sqare foot garden area (which otherwise had no fence), and strung an electric fence around the garden. The PVC flexes a bit, but is rigid, and is inherently an insulator (vs driving metal t-stakes and getting a pile of insulator clips). That keeps the deer and turkeys out, and after a month or so, I turned the power off to the fence, though just recently turned it back on as the deer are back out. Turkeys could fly over, but when they're grazing, they're wandering around head down. Likewise, the deer can jump over the fence, but if they're zapped while on the ground, they seem to just avoid the area entirely.

Gophers require trapping (don't bother with those noisemaker things), though because I tilled the garden area a lot in the months heading into spring to work in a 20cu yard load of compost, the gophers weren't as dominant as they had been previously. Outside of the garden area, and at the perimeter (such as where I planted my potatoes) it was a different story.

A few weeks ago, I attended a presentation on gopher mitigation that was at the Seed Bank (an awesome store in town), and in the week following, I caught 5 gophers, including the monster that had been ravaging plants in the garden (one gopher that killed a productive Delicato squash, a blue lake bean, a purple podded pole bean, a Chinese red noodle, and took several bites out of some red onions, and was on course for the scarlett runners and soybeans). I took particular joy in the successful hunt for a gopher that had taken a couple of cucumber plants earlier in the season. Kitty loves the fresh meat.

Possums and skunks rove through, but they're not here for the garden - a simple cage trap deals with them pretty effectively, usually baited with a couple of old eggs or some fat cuttings. I keep my beehives elevated which has the benefit of keeping them above where the nocturnals might bother them.

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