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Predators

 
Seth Wetmore
Posts: 158
Location: Some where in the universe in space and time.
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Plant Predators: including insects, gastropods, birds, mammals etc.
In the ares closest to our activity many easy interventions can be introduced to minimize the effects of predation on our food crops, yet as we go farther out into the wild, predation becomes a major factor. Understanding the predators that feast upon our food crops and how to get them to ignore our food sources is critical. As a example the potato did not become the great thing we have today by being eaten in it's entirety by a gopher. Yet gophers would love nothing more than to eat any available potato. So planting in the wild in my opinion is dangerous to the survival of the plant you are introducing. Companion plants help a great deal. Location can also be a benefit. Plant selection for the area helps. Although knowing the predators is the best defense against them. This way you do not waste time, product, energy, and emotions on loosing a crop. In California where I am we have laws that minimize carnivore predators and increase herbivore predators. Thus our Deer/gopher population is EXPONENTIALLY out of control. Deer are very hard to deter. They are as goats and eat just about everything. What the deer do not consume, the gophers come by and wipe out. I am focused upon these two for the effects that are most obvious. TOTAL PLANT DESTRUCTION. So get to know the predators of your area. Accept that getting rid of them is not going to happen, then adjust the way the plants are assembled, and where. Put the best defenses up first. Wait and see if your defenses are completely over run before putting in your food crops. If you have any ideas to protect herbaceous plants from these pleasant predators let me know.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1331
Location: northern California
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This is my third season here in N. CA. and there are, in addition to gophers and deer, moderate numbers of ground squirrels and wild pigs too! And one year, an explosion of grasshoppers! Things I've found helpful: the whole yard is perimetered by ordinary 4 ft. field fence with barbed wire, since all neighbors run cattle. Blocking gaps in this plus the dog has kept the pigs out so far. The dog also helps with the deer until summer when they get more desperate and our irrigated gardens too much of a temptation. I use baited electric wire on top of the perimeter fence when I can, until fire danger becomes extreme. Then I switch to motion-sensitive sprinklers, which work for another few weeks....so far till after our major tomato harvest. Eventually they just don't care if they get wet....so there went my field of tepary beans.....next summer I will move this closer to the house. So far all my small permanent edible trees and shrubs are planted in baskets of chickenwire against gophers and rings of fence above ground against deer till they get tall enough. The taller plants tend to resist grasshoppers better....the one year I had to "bag" all the important trees with fine fabric mesh. The one year the squirrels got bad running off with tomatoes....I trapped about 15-20 that year and they haven't been bad since. I imagine they run in cycles like the hoppers. The gophers are worst with root crops....they seem to tunnel under and among other vegetables and not kill more than a plant or two. So I made three raised beds with stucco mesh underneath (cheaper than hardware cloth) and edged with roofing tin....one for white potatoes, another for carrots, and the last for sweet potatoes and had an excellent crop of all three! Additionally I'm learning to eat acorns, and feed them to my chickens, so I diligently gather the acorns in the yard (probably close to 2k# this year!), and so I'm also removing a major food source and attractant for all these critters....
 
Seth Wetmore
Posts: 158
Location: Some where in the universe in space and time.
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Yes the squirrels. How could I forget! We have both ground squirrels, as well as the mischevious tree squirrel. These highly intellegent criters are the bane of many a plant. Fast agile dexterous. Did I mention intellegent. DO NOT TRY TO OUT-SMART A SQUIRREL. These special criters are able to get into many forms of feed/feeders. I think they are observing our behavior more than we are observing thier behavior. They specialize in seed storage. I have had very few problems with these criters in back yard settings, but get into any minor forest, or stray to close to a beach and Bam they know you are there. They chitter away telling every other criter Here comes the food. I went on a avocado planting spree. When I would come back Many of the seeds that I had planted had been dug up and nibbled on, left to dry in the brilliant never ending sun of the California coast. Squirrels are curious and can be given complex objects to manipulate. Unfortunatly they as with many animals are vectors for disease. So try to keep them at a distance from children. In California it is Illegal to feed wild animals. I decided the only way to compete with the squirrel is to over plant in the areas where they are. Have a great day
 
Seth Wetmore
Posts: 158
Location: Some where in the universe in space and time.
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Being very close to the cities our wild pig problem is less obvious. Although every now and then a car gets taken out by a pig in the road or a motor cycle gets taken out. I have not seen evidence of wild pigs rooting through the woods in my nieghborhood.
Does anyone else have a wild pig story?
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Seth, feral pigs are normal in my area. Just about every night I have at least one feral pig come by. Strong pig-wire fencing with 1-2 strands of tight barbed wire at the bottom helps keep them out. As a back up system, I keep a farm dog that is very focused on pigs. He will drive a pig away that starts to investigate the fence line.

I purposely allow a feral sow access to the far back pasture. She has a den back there and we maintain a feeding station for her. Thus we can regularly harvest young pigs from her litters, although we have to be clever with the traps. She learns to avoid traps and somehow teaches her piglets to do the same. So it's an ongoing challenge to see if we can outsmart the newest batch of piglets. So far, we're keeping one step ahead of them.

 
Seth Wetmore
Posts: 158
Location: Some where in the universe in space and time.
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I saw a video where people were using old tires set up and held in plces. With no rim, as a fence. The hole was just slighlty to small for the adult male to go through. And all the little piggies followed the leader. Interesting stuff. Most people can not put a barrier of tires around thier property, but the idea is interesting.
 
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