Gardener vs. Wildlife

It was a tough garden season this year, a lack of rain coupled with an explosion in the number of local woodchuck, deer and other garden pests wrecked havoc on many in the area. Fortunately, I  installed drip irrigation a few years ago and was able to water my garden easily but the wildlife were the major beneficiary.

I planted 24 feet of cucumbers and didn’t harvest a single one as woodchucks chewed the plants to the nub as soon as they started to flower, on one occasion I watched as the woodchuck surveyed the crop before I could chase him off. We did get one meal of green and yellow beans only to find the plants completely shredded the following morning, looked like deer predation. As the tomatoes ripened they would be eaten from the bottom up, initially suspected the woodchuck but as the damage got higher and higher deer and perhaps crows became the suspected predators.

A friend from Wisconsin suggested a simply design for a hoop house:

Garden Netting ©

Garden Netting

  • 6       1/2″ x 10′ FGG CPVC-CTS
  • 12     3/4″ x 1′ PVC
  • 16     Plastic Clips
  • 33″    3/4″ Netting

I bought the PVC at Home Depot, the Plastic Clips at Staples and the Netting from A M Leonard. The 3/4″ PVC is pushed into the soil at 4′ intervals on either side of the raised bed and then the 1/2″ FGG 10′ sections are simply inserted into the 3/4″ PVC. The netting was left over from another project and was much wider than it really needed to be (12 to 14 feet wide would be sufficient) but certainly effective. The clips didn’t need to be sturdy and are only used to help hold the netting in place. It cost around $60 to protect the 4′ x 20′ raised bed shown above. Next spring I will use the hoops with greenhouse film from Growers Supply to get a jump on the season then switch to netting once the thought of frost has passed then back to film to extend the fall season.

I am afraid the predators are still cleverer than I but perhaps they will move on to easier picking. I don’t need to be the cleverest, just cleverer than my nearest neighbor’s garden.

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