Help planning new squirrel-proof strawberry bed

2ajsmamaJune 23, 2014

Well, the squirrels won this year. No matter how tightly I tried to stake the netting down over the bed, they seemed to get in. Even trapping them and keeping 1 there all day as an "example" didn't seem to work. They're now avoiding the peanut-butter-baited trap.

Since I planted this bed in 2012 and got a small harvest last year (even smaller this year - as in a few pints for 100sf), it might be time to move the bed. I started to extend it lengthwise last fall, that probably isn't going to work, but the runners from the original bed have crept into the outside row of the veggie garden. The squirrels have gotten what few berries were there too, but I think it might be easier to secure that row than the bed on top of the stone wall.

Here's the plan - suggestions for improvement welcome!

Outside row (south side) of veggie garden has permanently installed T posts we attach deer netting to each year. My plan is to install chicken wire to the bottom of the posts and bury the edge - how deep is deep enough? Then we can continue to put up the netting each year (don't leave it over the winter, so we can get a few years out of it). Since I don't know if we can make a squirrel-proof gate, and they'd probably climb over anyway. what I want to do is also make a low (1ft tall?) chicken wire wall (edge buried) on the inside of the strawberry row only, and a hinged lid that attaches to the fence and can be lifted and held up with a few carabiner clips to harvest. Will probably mean stakes along each side of the row to support a 1x2 lip for the lid (also 1x2s covered with wire or netting) and hinges. I don't know how long to make each section - 50 ft or so of row, though I know lumber is sold in 8ft lengths I have a short bed pickup. Could get them home but also 8ft length is a long lid to support, so I'm thinking 4-5ft (evenly divided, have to measure row - actually right now it's 1 long row and 1 short since we expanded the garden a few years ago, I have 1 N-S aisle and multiple E-W aisles in the garden).

I also have new raised beds along the east side of a new high tunnel this year, just started planting dwarf tomatoes (in south 12ft only, still have 48ft left), that might be a good place for berries? The plastic will be up in March or April each year (not over winter) so plenty early for strawberries - I would expect that I could have berries in May if I put them in there. I just hate to give up the real estate to such a short-harvest perennial crop. And I'd still have to put a lid on them/net them if I wanted to roll up the sides to vent - though it would be easier to put a lid on the wooden beds - I'd just have to remove some of the soil since we filled them to the top. I'm wondering if wire hoops and netting would be easier to secure (make the ends out of chicken wire?) on the raised beds?

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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

Try electric fencing. It is cheap and works well and is as humane as you can get.

See below

Mike

Here is a link that might be useful: KENCOVE ELECTRIC NETTING

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 5:10PM
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Fascist_Nation(9b)

PM me and let me know how many rattlesnakes you want? lol

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:15PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Rubber rattlesnacks would work, get them at the dollar store.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 10:13PM
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2ajsmama

Hmmm, I still have some green berries left, will have to look for rubber snakes. I do have a garter snake who lives in the garden but doesn't seem to bother the squirrels.

Electric netting looks interesting - 28" tall and open at the top good enough? I'm assuming squirrels can't jump that high. I'm also going to build a chicken run (in my spare time LOL) and have the 4ft tall 23 mesh and some poultry wire (my uncle said put UNDER the run as well as over top to keep predators from digging). Electric might work there too? Except I would think you'd still need top (for hawks) and bottom (for foxes digging)...

No one thinks I need to move the bed and try to bury the wire to keep the rodents out?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 6:48AM
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beeman_gardener(5)

Here's another idea for you.
I made what looks like a small tunnel, plastic covered with 6mil greenhouse plastic, roll up sides, with a support across the top to hold the roll up, which is weighted with wood. Roll it up in cold weather, half up for shade on hot days, rolled up fully to gather any rain.
This allows me to staple green garden netting over the whole thing, which is easily lifted to allow picking.
I was picking strawberries almost 1 month before the local self pick.
Photos available on request.
PS. I also have a larger version for blueberries, mainly to keep the rabbits out, but with the same effects as strawberries.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 4:28PM
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2ajsmama

Yes, please photos. I have 1" mesh bird netting over wire hoops, but just using pegs and rocks to hold the edges down and the squirrels (and chipmunks? Had 1 earlier, he got caught in netting and hung himself a couple of weeks ago) just go under.

So if you have a better way of securing the edges and ends a photo would help. That's why I was thinking partially-buried chicken wire along each side was a good idea. Just can't do it in current location.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 4:38PM
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beeman_gardener(5)

Here is a photo of my idea to keep the vermin out of beds, plus some control over climate.
This shows the side screen rolled up for rain gathering, plus the netting for vermin control.
Just a point. If you keep them out to prevent any feeding early in the season, then they will ignore the beds completely. We have birds, chipmunks and lots of squirrels, but no damage.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:10PM
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beeman_gardener(5)

Second photo of my ideas.
Showing the greenhouse film rolled down and the weight system to prevent it blowing around.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:12PM
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beeman_gardener(5)

The third photo, with the screen down in the shade position, for when the scorch comes on.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:14PM
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beeman_gardener(5)

Finally a large version to cover the blueberries, again keeps the nasties out.
Pity we cannot load more than one photo, without a great deal of problems.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:16PM
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2ajsmama

A little more involved than my wire hoops and netting - I don't know that I'd bother with plastic - maybe row cover.

I can see wood sides - you say you staple the netting? To the sides? Or do you mean landscape staples to the earth? How do you remove the netting to pick and then get it secure again? That's the problem I'm having.

Separate (permanent?) ends looks more secure than just gathering the netting and pegging it down as I've done.

Thanks for the pix

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 9:24PM
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2010champsbcs

Squirrels can be persistent. Consider incorporating them into your diet. In the south they make squirrel dumplings or squirrel gravy with biscuits. Sorry I cant help. Good luck, Bill

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 10:01PM
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home_grower(SoCal Z9 S18)

hehe: Squirrel Launcher

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 2:19AM
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