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Help me save my plants... rabbits and pigeons!

 
pollinator
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Hi folks,

I have had a lot of fun with my lockdown garden, but have struggled from the start with large pests eating my plants. I have some beans that are desperate to be planted out, but the first batch I put out were eaten to the ground in 24 hours. Baby cabbages totally disappeared within 24 hours. The growing tips of my sunflower have all be nibbled - despite taking precautions!

Some plants have done really well and been totally ignored so far; squash, pumpkin, rhubarb, jerusalem artichoke, globe artichoke, beetroot, rainbow chard. But I really want to be able to pick my own beans :( Having seen the damage done to earlier plantings, when I transplanted the sunflowers I stuck loads and loads of twiggy branches into the bed around them. Something has got into the thicket and snipped them. I was considering that my test for protecting the beans, so it is quite disappointing. I need some ideas.

Long term - like a year or so - I will probably end up fencing the whole area from rabbits, and using netting for pigeons - but I don't have that now, and garden supplies are essentially unobtainable at the moment.

Help!
 
gardener
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I've seen people using these "bird scarers" strung up over their gardens.





If rabbits and pigeons see the silhouette of a bird of prey above them, they are supposed to be scared away. I've seen just laminated pictures of a hawk's face taped to the eaves of buildings and no pigeons or nest so maybe they work.

You could probably make one yourself easily. Cut it out, paint it or just draw eye circles one the wings for extra scariness, make it waterproof, and string it up. The trick is that it must blow in the wind and move around some or the pests will habituate to it.

While your plants are small, I've just put a colander on top of them and a rock to weight it down. You could even make a tunnel out of an old sheet or something as long as enough light gets through. Good luck!
 
pollinator
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Time to raid your closets...any "foil" take out containers, pie plates, rolls of aluminum tin foil; balloons, CD's, flagging tape, rags that could be torn into strips?

Both rabbits and pigeons are prey - makes them skittish of anything moving, flapping, flashing, twirling or otherwise non static.

Draw "bullseyes" on balloons; hand shiny stuff that will spin, throwing light beams; dangle strips of anything that will "blow"; you get the idea.

A motion activated light (ordered online, like Mr. Beams from amazon) might work if rabbits hit at night - at the very least it would serve them up for dinner to predators!  

Snares might also be an option, if you are looking for some extra protein.
 
pollinator
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Michael, how about container gardening... might work against the rabbits at least, since they don't climb or fly. Elevate the containers for best effect, on a railing, a wall, a picnic table, shed roof? Some sawhorses and planks? Or use tall containers like trash barrels (dustbin?), or large pots like used for trees. *edit* I forgot hanging baskets!
 
master steward
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Michael, are there things around you that you could make fencing out of?

I have seen some really neat ideas that others here on permies have posted.

Tyler made a nice looking fence out of some limber tree branches. I have seen somemembers that simply stuck branches into the bed similar to the junk pole fence.

What kind of damage to pigeons do?  We have mourning dove that are not interested in the garden.  I understand that birds do peck at our tomatoes so we pick them just as the are turning colors.
 
Michael Cox
pollinator
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An update...

The rabbits and pigeons have totally ignored some plants and obliterated others.

Safe:
Tomato
Courgette
Pumpkins
Beetroot and chard (direct sown)
Rhubarb
Globe artichoke
Potato

Obliterated:
Kale - transplanted
Cabbage
Beans

My strawberry, red currant and gooseberry bushes are all fine, but the fruit is still green. But there is a bumper crop coming which is exciting.

I purchased a huge piece of bird netting to protect stuff this week, and have cut it to size to fit specific patches - berry bushes, strawberries etc.. Iā€™m about to plant out another set of beans and am going to attempt to protect them with the netting. Climbing french beans are being planted beneath a frame of poles, and netting is going to be secured for the first meter of height around the poles. Hopefully this will do the trick.

I paid a bit extra for top quality netting that I hope will last many years if stored properly.

Fingers crossed.

ā€”ā€”
Re suggesting for deterrents.. past experience is they are pretty futile. The nearest rabbit burrow is less than 10m from the veggies, and they are around all the tine day or night.
 
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