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Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

Posted by hoosierquilt z10a/23 Vista Calif (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 15, 12 at 16:57

I am thinking about putting in two raised planters behind my greenhouse, but I have to come up with some way to keep the varmints out. For me that is mainly gophers, ground squirrels (they're the worst for me), a rare rabbit and rats/mice. Plus birds of course. I am definitely going to have to put hardware cloth on the bottom of the planters, but I am also at a loss as to how to protect against the ground squirrels and rats short of doing a full enclosure, including a roof. Does anyone have any photos of how they've managed to deter these sorts of pests? I'd hate to go to all the time, effort and money just to feed a bunch of rodents! But, I miss my own home-grown tomatoes. Geesh, even in Indiana, where we had deer and rabbits it wasn't this bad. The ground squirrels and rats are just awful, not to mention the gophers. Of which I now have a couple of dirt piles I'm going to have to deal with today or tomorrow. Ugh.

Patty S.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 15, 12 at 18:29

I have the same critters that you have and my answer won't help you, but is the way I deal with it. Since I had a small nursery before, I have 8-10' x 4' wire covered tables
and lots of 5 gallon pots. My main plants are filet French green beans (bush) and I plant LOTS of 5 gallon pots of these..1 plant per pot. I don't need tons of tomatoes, so I grow only a few and they go into 15 gal pots, snow peas, sugar snap peas also in 15 gallon pots, staked up with bamboo branches stuck into the pots and I've planted 130 strawberry plants in 2 gal pots (one plant per pot)and with these sitting on the tables and able to be covered with plastic netting when fruiting, I hope they wil do well. Eggplant...5 gallon pot, peppers...5 gallon pot. This is obviously not cost effective if you don't already have the materials, or the ability to improvise, but I had quit growing in the ground years ago because of all those critter problems...now I'm happy. I did try melons and pumpkins last year in the 5 gal pots and they did not do well, but I will do them again this year and take better care of them, hopefully.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

I know, gypsy, you and I are in the worst area ever for ground squirrels, gophers, rabbits and rats. I can't honestly say which of those 4 are worse. Oh, and mice. LOTS of field mice. I've just gotten used to all the coyotes out my back fence (watching one with my binocs right now, as a matter of fact), and all the owls, hawks, falcons, weasels, and bobcats. But even with all those predators, they still can't even touch the rodent population, here. I have had to resort to 8 poison bait stations that I have to figure a way to now secure, as I have a curious puppy, now. My 2 yo Aussie is not interested in the stations, but this new little guy is way more precocious. And noisy. I can lock the gate to the lower yard, but I still have 4 bait stations up on the upper yard, as I have to have at least that many just to have some of my poms and stone fruits. So, I'll just have to figure out the best way to secure the garden. I may come up with some sort of removable hardware screen boxes. That might work.

Patty S.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 15, 12 at 20:14

We didn't get any sapotes this year...rats did, though.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

Egads. I tell you. The rats are the worst for our fruit trees. And the tomatoes. I'm going to a veggie garden talk at Grangettos on Saturday. I'm going to really grill the speaker about how on earth to protect the veggies. I'm thinking I might do 4 square raised beds, then create a cage out of hardware cloth to go over the plants. Just need to make sure the holes are big enough to let the bees in, but not the rats. And not so heavy that I can't lift it off easily. I'd love to see photos of your Sapote! Mine is still pretty young, and only two branches. I'm wondering if I should top it to force side branches.

Patty S.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

What makes me mad is that you can't even use cheap chicken wire since the rats can get right through. Hardware cloth is expensive. One of my former students built cages around all of his blueberries. A lot of trouble for a few blueberries!
Renee


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

Yes, my 3 blueberries up on the top of my yard in in BIG tall pots. They still got stripped to sticks by the rats. One didn't make it. I ended up having to wrap these big terra cotta pots in hardware cloth, too. It's ridiculous. It makes cost-prohibitive to dry to grow your own fruits and veggies here, which is so ridiculous because we live in the land of perfect weather! Egads. My husband if very creative. I'm going to have him think about this a bit and see if he can come up with something that will really work. I thought about buying a Bird-X machine, but with two Aussies, I think that ultrasonic sound would drive them mad. So, that's probably not an option. I am going to buy an owl kite, though, to help keep the birds out of my fruit trees. That and CD's hanging in the trees, too. Not particularly attractive, but better than netting!

Patty S.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 15, 12 at 23:55

It's such an odd way of posting pics on this site. I did finally (months ago) sit down and figure it out and post one pic, I think....so I've not done it again...sigh...
My sapote grew from a seedling and is an awkward looking tree...gangly branches and I think I'll finally prune them back some. I let it grow so that it would provide some shade in an area where I wanted more, so I wasn't all that upset when the rats got them. The tree is about 13-14' tall, I guess. We've been harvesting some of the avocados and the rats haven't bothered them yet. I have 3 blueberry bushes in half barrels and the rats have left them alone. We have a couple of feral cats around here that come and go and have so far evaded the coyotes, so perhaps the cats have been keeping the rat population down....and the rabbits and the squirrels.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

Oh! It's easy peasy! It's just the html code you need to copy and paste into the body of your message! Just post up you photos to a photo sharing site. I use Photobucket.com. Upload the photo. Go back to your album. Float your mouse cursor over the photo and a little pop up window will appear. Left click once on the "HTML Code". That will paste the HTML code to your computer clipboard. Then, right click in the body of your GW message and select "paste". You now have the photo's HTML code pasted right into the body of your message, like this:
Photobucket

This is a pic of my caged blueberries from last year.

My sapote looks pretty gangly, too. It's only 2 years old, going on three, so I figure I can probably safely prune the main branch. I don't want it to get too tall anyway, as I want to be able to pick any fruit that grows. It hasn't bloomed, yet, so maybe this year I'll get a few fruit.

Patty S.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

I am up against the Cleveland National forest. I think every year more critters imprint on my garden. The rabbits are kept out with a perimeter fence. Rats gophers and mice are trapped constantly,which is not always enough anyway. Birds are really bad at this time of year for some crops, but they don't touch others. They must be migratory birds because as spring goes the problem diminishes. Squirrels aren't a problem yet but I see them starting to move closer.

Anyway, for growing on the ground I bought a hoop bender and a bulk row of bird netting and several bulk rolls of row cover of different weights. I throw some dirt on the cover to hold it down. So far nothing has gone under it. The rats and mice just generally seem to take the path of least resistance. In any case, it is working. In the winter, even the light weight row cover just makes things grow much better so that's an added benefit. I have thought about using greenhouse cover remnants to make perimeter fences that are too slick for the mice and rats to climb.

I don't do anything for the stuff nobody likes to eat, like leeks, onions, garlic, chard, red lettuce and red cabbage larger kale transplants and a few others. Some of my plantings are so big that rats and mice don't make a significant dent, like squash. Plus in the summer they can go elsewhere and get things they like more, like seeds of dessicated native annuals.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

We planted a row of society garlic to try and discourage the gophers from next doors brick pile to visit us. The gopher put a hole on one side of the garlic, ran through the garlic over ground and dug a hole on our side. Grrr

I did the ends of our winter garden in onions and garlics to also discourage visits. You can see where the tunnels run between them and we have traps everywhere even a solar sonic thing some one gave us.

Today that beast was so brazen as to run past us, over the walkway 20 feet and in to the garden, not once but twice! The first time we were shocked to see the beast with it's full cheeks running by, but the second time my elderly mom might have got a bit of a stomp on it!

Grrrrr Varmints!


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas? sapote

I forgot to add my word of warning on those sapotes, not only are they rat magnets, they sprout like mad and are next to impossible to kill and remove. Unless you want a forest of them, be really careful to pick up all the seeds and don't toss the fruit in your compost bin!

My dad was going to make "his next million" selling sapotes. He planted a dozen or so and even after cutting them down, cutting off suckers and resorting to round-up, the stumps are still trying to come back to life. The roots really stretch so watch were your sewer/septic lines are too


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

lol...yes, I've got sapote seedlings.

Thanks for the photo tutorial, Patty. I'll try it...I'm spoiled, on DG, Cubits and ATP you just 'upload photo' and that's it....


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

Jeepers, good to know about the sapote volunteers, Kippy. That tree is sort of close to a water authority easement, so it may have to be moved to the back. I'll make sure to pick up any dropped fruit. That's going to be interesting - I may see sapote trees popping up in unexpected places, if the rats steal the fruit and take it elsewhere to eat! And rustico, thank you for the row cover idea. That might be a solution, especially if I can figure out how to make hardware cloth cubes or frames. I could just top them with row covers. I wonder if there is something that has a slightly bigger opening, but not as big as chicken wire, and still the heaviness of hardware cloth, so the bees can get in and do their job.

Patty S.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 16, 12 at 14:20

That's a really nice blueberry cage. Here it is birds that get them.

A lady I know with a very large (2 acres!) veggie and fruit garden says if you have fruit trees you are going to have rats, so just accept the fact and deal with them. She has a rat trap under every tree, and raised beds for veggies that are fenced in. Her blueberries are in chain link dog kennels covered with netting. Every year she has huge harvests and lavishly supports a local food bank for the poor.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

Oh my! That's actually a great, GREAT idea, hoovb! A dog kennel. You could put up snake fencing around the perimeter too, to keep out the rats. Good grief, a fortress for a veggie garden, but that's what it takes here. And with this huge 80 acre abandoned orange orchard right next to me, it is just teeming with roof (citrus) rats, ground squirrels and bunnies. Which is why we have SO many predators out here. Was scoping out a coyote just outside my fence chomping down on something, completely oblivious to my two Aussies pitching a gigantic fit. My big Aussie has already taken down one coyote, but they are so smart, they know that fence will keep the dogs away from them (until I open our back gate, of course).

Patty S.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 16, 12 at 14:36

This is the sapote...about 15'-20' I think.....
Photobucket


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas? Sapote

Yikes! How old is this tree, gypsy???

Patty S.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 16, 12 at 15:28

It was there as a seedling when we moved onto this property,so probably about 15 years old.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

Probably not enough help, but a neighboring street has a series of owl houses they put in the trees. Some sorts of owls took up residence and decimated the rodent population... Seems to have worked really well.


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RE: Varmint Resistent Veggie Garden Ideas?

  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 16, 12 at 18:27

That's true...it does help. Our neighboring property has an owl box and they (owls) come swooping in here silently at night....


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