Gadgets: Keeping Critters Out
by Nellie Neal
You’ve grown the
strawberries, tended the tomatoes, and can boast to anyone about the
quality of your sumptious lettuce. The landscape you’ve carefully tended
finally has taken off with flowers and shrubs in all their
glory. Then comes the surprise: bunnies, birds, deer, and an assortment of
critters arrive to devour your work.
plastic owls and snakes, aluminum pie plates, and all sorts of whirlygigs
in the garden to distract the birds and squirrels. They fence out the deer
and bunnies, cover the fruit plants, and hide ripening
fruit under boxes overnight. Sometimes nothing works.
plants must begin early. Fencing will keep deer away only if it securely
surrounds the entire garden and is tall enough to prevent them jumping
over. There are no deerproof plants; some sprays seem
to repel, but must be reapplied frequently.
rings around trees and clumps of perennials may slow down bunnies and
squirrels bent on a garden dinner. Hardware cloth with half inch mesh
works best. Located the barrier several inches from the trunk or clump,
with at least one foot above ground and four inches sunk into the soil.
screen cages work to shelter many plants, and also can deter moths whose
egglaying produces chewing caterpillars. If you’re no carpenter, find a
slatted wooden crate, remove all but the basic frame, and cover it with
screen or row cover material.
Garden nets work
well when tossed over blueberry bushes and other fruit plants to deter
birds from ripening fruit. Look for a closeknit netting if fruit are small
sized and remember to tie it at the bottom of the bush
or anchor it into the ground.
Harvest timing can
thwart the pests, too. Pluck tomatoes as soon as they begin to turn pink,
before the squirrels and birds can get a bit. Leave the fruit to ripen on
a kitchen counter; never refrigerate. Pick ripe, soft
fruits like berries and figs at sunrise in order to beat the birds before
they get your breakfast.