Critters in the Garden
|This turkey loves my garden a little too much.|
I have a 4 ½ foot fence surrounding my vegetable garden to keep out critters. But, unbeknownst to me there was a hole in the fence. The turkey found his way in and dug up my newly planted onions and ate the tips of them down. I almost had a breakdown but my husband helped me to repair the hole in the fence. I replanted what I could of what was left of the onions. But, guess what happened the next day? I saw the chickens making their way up and over the fence. I quickly put them in their chicken coop and decided that my free range chickens might have to spend a couple of weeks in the coop until the onions got themselves rooted better in my garden. The next morning I noticed that my onions again had been dug up. But how could that be? The chickens were still in their coop. And then that is when I noticed a squirrel running up the fence surrounding my vegetable garden.
Beware garden predators! I am anticipating a full blown battle this year with animals wanting to attack my garden. So I am prepping my garden with anti-squirrel/turkey/chicken fortification. Since I know predators can be persistent, I am employing two anti-critter strategies.
The first anti-critter strategy is placing chicken cage wire on top of my raised beds. I attached the wire by placing a screw in the top of the corners of the raised bed and along the sides if I felt that the wire needed it to stay in its place. To support the wire I placed reclaimed lumber leftover from other projects under the wire, in case a squirrel or chicken stood on it. I did not want the wire to start sagging and getting caught up in the plants. You can use wire or screen or whatever you have on hand. I can easily remove this wire in case I need to weed and / or if the plants get too big. On some plants I will remove the wire when the plants get rooted well enough such as the onions, broccoli, tomatoes… On some plants the wire will stay because they are so tasty and attract critters such as strawberries.
The second anti-critter strategy is making a homemade non-toxic hot pepper spray. This spray will help ward off unwanted critters by its burning hot taste and its smell. If I notice that a particular plant is receiving extra attention from critters I soak rags with this hot pepper spray and staple the rags on the edges of my raised beds. I staple the rag to the raised bed because wind can blow it off of where it is needed.I also pour some of the hot pepper spray on the ground around the base of the plants.
To make this homemade hot pepper spray I put habanera peppers or any hot peppers I have on hand into a blender. I use seeds and all because the seeds are actually where the heat of the pepper is the strongest. I add a dash of water in the blender and grind them up. I have also replaced the dash of water with vinegar for added potency along with onions. I store this concoction in a canning jar until I need to use it. I have also used it in a spray bottle so that I can spray it on plants if needed. If you do pour it into a spray bottle make sure that you strain it before adding it to the spray bottle or you will clog up the sprayer. Be sure to wear plastic gloves when handling these hot peppers and do not touch your eyes and face!
It is frustrating when you spend time in your garden getting plants to grow and then finding it destroyed by critters. Try not to despair and try to incorporate some anti-critter strategies. I hope if you have critter problems like me that these two suggestions are able to help you defend your garden.