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Gardening with Wildlife
Old 12-07-2008, 03:05 PM   #1
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Gardening with Wildlife

In keeping with our eating healthy & LBYM efforts, every year we plant a garden. And every year the indigenous wildlife (deer, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, birds, giraffes, etc.) gleefully eat every vegetable or fruit we grow before they even begin to ripen - we live in a heavily wooded area. Sometimes they eat not just the vegetables, but plant and all, almost right down to the ground for Pete's sake! The only things we can grow & harvest are herbs (need any basil?), they leave those alone. We have tried chicken wire and stuff like that, all to no avail. Before I resort to an expensive, unsightly chain link fence around our garden or arming myself (...joking...), I thought I'd ask here. I'll bet there are gardeners here who have learned how to co-exist with the local wildlife...
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:10 PM   #2
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In my Master Gardener training, an expert suggested putting a 6 foot high fence around edibles. If the deer jump the fence, then either extend it higher or add a second 6 foot fence about 2 or 3 feet from the first fence. That makes it too far for them to jump over, and there isn't enough room for them to jump in between the fences.

If you're only dealing with smaller critters, you can put hardware cloth or concrete reinforcing wire around the garden (stronger than chicken wire) and cover with the plastic trellis material. The concrete reinforcing wire might have holes that are too large, depends on your critters.
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:15 PM   #3
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I dont' know how big your garden is, but you can put fish net over every bit of it, top and all. Use PVC for your posts around the perimeter, and then for a top frame. You mught need some in the middle for support. Then just drape the netting all over. You can also get some different kinds of netting etc. from FarmTek Agricultural Supplies, Fencing, Equine Buildings, Grain, Manure Livestock & Kennel Buildings from FarmTek
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:27 PM   #4
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Never tried it, but predator unine scent at the perimeter? would think that the scent of a local predator might be better than African lion for a NW garden, but no real idea (maybe keep those giraffes at bay...). This stuff supposedly works on deer, not rabbits: Deer Repellent and other Natural Animal Repellents from Liquid Fence
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:32 PM   #5
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What did you do with the chicken wire, and how did that solution fail?

I once tried mountain lion urine to deter deer and it didn't work well.
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:59 PM   #6
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Depending on how big your garden is and how much trouble you want to go to, you could make a Quonset-hut style frame out of 1" Schedule 40 PVC arches, then cover this whole thing with fishing net (or go up the sides a few feet with chicken wire). As an added bonus, this structure is cheap and would allow you to cover it in plastic to make a greenhouse and get a few more months of growing.

Two pieces of 10' PVC can be bent into a semi-circular arch that is 12' 9"" across and provides 6' 4" of headroom in the middle. You'd probably want an arch every two feet, with periodic interconnecting pieces between the arches (use "T" fittings for these). I'd just pound 2' lengths of rebar into the ground at a slight angle and slip the hoop legs over them, and stake everything down. Also, if I recall correctly, 1 1/4" schedule 40 PVC is a good friction-fit around 1" Shecdule 40 PVC, so you could cut 8" lengths of this to connect the pieces of 1" PVC (cheaper than couplings and maybe less prone to cause a stress fracture at the connection over time).

PVC embrittles with UV exposure, so paint the plastic if you go this route and want the frame to last a long time.

.
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Old 12-07-2008, 05:02 PM   #7
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Liquid fence will deter deer at our place for awhile, but they eat everything after a rain dilutes it. I havent found anything that works, so I've resorted to only barberries, grasses, boxwoods, evergreens, lilacs, spireas, and vincas for annual flowers
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Old 12-07-2008, 05:34 PM   #8
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We enjoy the only advantage of gardening in suburbia...... the only pests are relatively small - rabbits, woodchucks, etc. - and relatively easy to fence out. Our friends who are avid gardeners who live in rural areas have found that only extensive efforts at tall fencing will save gardens and saplings from deer. KB's suggestion in post #2 above seems to be accepted practice for serious gardeners in areas with significant deer populations. If there was anything easy, like drinking a lot of beer daily and peeing around the edge of the garden, I'm sure it would be well known and in vogue. Not that there's anything wrong with drinking a lot of beer daily and peeing, it just won't do anything to help the deer problem!

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We have tried chicken wire and stuff like that, all to no avail. Before I resort to an expensive, unsightly chain link fence around our garden or arming myself (...joking...), I thought I'd ask here. I'll bet there are gardeners here who have learned how to co-exist with the local wildlife...
A five foot chain link fence won't even slow down deer if they think that whatever is growing inside looks tasty and they're hungry!
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Old 12-07-2008, 06:23 PM   #9
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If it's still deer season where you're at you can fill your freezer!
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Old 12-07-2008, 06:54 PM   #10
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I have read that a high solid fence will discourage deer, as they won't jump over what they can't see through. Within that, use chicken wire around beds and sink it several inches into the soil and bend it outward so it can't be climbed.

There are also solar powered electric fence and motion sensing water hoses.

And you could try marking your territory.
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:08 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
What did you do with the chicken wire, and how did that solution fail?

I once tried mountain lion urine to deter deer and it didn't work well.
My problem is primarily deer and they either reach over the chicken wire or lean on it so hard it gives way...
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:55 PM   #12
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There are also solar powered electric fence ...

And you could try marking your territory.
I'd be very careful with that combination

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Old 12-07-2008, 10:13 PM   #13
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I have read that a high solid fence will discourage deer, as they won't jump over what they can't see through. Within that, use chicken wire around beds and sink it several inches into the soil and bend it outward so it can't be climbed.

There are also solar powered electric fence and motion sensing water hoses.

And you could try marking your territory.
"Honey, I'm going out to scatter a little dear repellent...back in a minute!"

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Old 12-07-2008, 11:19 PM   #14
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I have a solid wood 6' fence on the perimeter of my garden area that keeps out moose. They could easily jump it but I think the fact that they can't see through it (even though they can see over it) discourages them. I've heard the same about deer, but I'd ask your local extension service for advice.
I've used netting over my individual raised beds and that worked against birds and cats, but I haven't had any burrowing critters around to bother with.
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:40 AM   #15
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The book Square Foot Gardening gives instructions on how to make lids for your raised beds. We're going to do this in the spring as we just moved to a rural area with lots of wild life.
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:19 AM   #16
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... Before I resort to an expensive, unsightly chain link fence around our garden or arming myself (...joking...), I thought I'd ask here. I'll bet there are gardeners here who have learned how to co-exist with the local wildlife...
You don't need anything as strong (or ugly) as chain link, you just need something high enough to discourage deer from jumping it. My garden fence is 6' high, made from a roll of green vinyl coated wire mesh, so it blends into the landscape pretty well. I made the support posts from small tree trunks. The posts are over 8' high and I run string between the posts above the 6' fence height, so it gives the illusion that the fence is even taller. Not sure if that's necessary, but I've heard that the additional visual barrier is good at discouraging deer from trying to jump.

The whole thing was very inexpensive and looks pretty rustic so it looks good for my back yard. The wire mesh openings are small enough to keep out rabbits and ground hogs. So far it's worked well - I have lots of deer, rabbits, groundhogs and foxes running through my yard and they never touch my veggie garden.
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:26 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
In keeping with our eating healthy & LBYM efforts, every year we plant a garden. And every year the indigenous wildlife (deer, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, birds, giraffes, etc.) gleefully eat every vegetable or fruit we grow before they even begin to ripen - we live in a heavily wooded area. Sometimes they eat not just the vegetables, but plant and all, almost right down to the ground for Pete's sake! The only things we can grow & harvest are herbs (need any basil?), they leave those alone. We have tried chicken wire and stuff like that, all to no avail. Before I resort to an expensive, unsightly chain link fence around our garden or arming myself (...joking...), I thought I'd ask here. I'll bet there are gardeners here who have learned how to co-exist with the local wildlife...
Yes. When we lived in the Louisiana swamp - they didn't like cucumbers. Other than that - they ate everything - including I swear the bird netting over the top and wire mesh fencing.

heh heh heh - ok ok so sometimes we got away with potato's and radishes in mounds of several feet(swamp-high water table).
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Old 12-08-2008, 11:02 AM   #18
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my garden is way out back, maybe 50 feet from semi-dry swampland and thick woods. there are lots of deer there. i see their little tails bounding away when i release the hounds.
2 nutcase dogs with free rein in a fully fenced in yard (4' chain link) works very well for me. the dogs can never reach the deer. but they sure can bark at them.
there is a 2nd chain link fence around the garden, a garden scarecrow, and thin strips of plastic on the chain link fence for some random motion. i go to the garden frequently so my human scent is ever present.
smaller critters found our strawberries and blackberries. a simple overhead plastic bird netting on metal garden vine supports and wrapping the bottom of the netting around some 2x4 boards took care of that. i found some pelleted fox urea online that sealed the deal for ground burrowing critters.
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Old 12-08-2008, 11:07 AM   #19
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Wonder how venison tastes with some of those herbs you grow? Maybe invite the local redneck militia in for a little huntin'?
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:57 PM   #20
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I was going to suggest a shotgun or bow/arrow for the deer (deer steaks are pretty good).

With outdoor cats at our place, the smaller critters haven't been any threat to our garden.
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