I recently started a plot at my new place and planted a ton of cover crop seed. I planted way more than recommended because I new the birds, rabbits and squirrels would eat a TON of the seeds and I figured I would develop better control measures than this at a later date. As expected right after planting there were a lot of animals eating the seeds. After about a week to a week and a half of planting I started having tons of seedlings that sprouted! Last night I came home and found nice little pockets where some animal had dug up and helped themselves to all my seedlings and I have almost nothing left. Im not upset as failures are a way to learn and move forward and apparently now is the time to learn!
My only thought right now is I purchased a little red ryder bb gun that I plan to use at soda can targets when these animals are in the yard in hopes of scaring them with a loud noise and training them that my yard is not where you want to be. If that fails I will bring out the .22 pellet rifle and put some meat in the freezer as I figure one way or another I will be eating what I planted, so if they eat my plants then Ill eat them =P. I was also thinking of putting up posts with some bright orange flags in hopes of them learning if the flags are out so are the bb/pellet guns.
I love seeing the wildlife and would enjoy them doing more usefull things, and us working and living in harmony (maybe this isnt realistic).
I would love to hear all of your solutions to this type of problem, and I assume Ill have the problem of these critters nibbling on my growing plants once I can get them to that stage, so I do need to figure out a decent solution.
I have lots of critter pressure. My first couple years saw losses of my baby trees in excess of 80%. The garden had pretty big losses of young plants as well.
Here is my solution:
Expensive, high joule electric fence around my nursery, garden and the house orchard. It's 6' T-posts and 4 wires from 16" up to six feet. The bottom 16 " is 24" chicken wire, with 8" buried in the ground, so resistant to just digging under. And then right above the chicken wire is the first electric wire. 95% successful at keeping the raccoons out of the sweet corn and peach trees. And 95% successful at keeping the deer out.
In the remaining 6 acres, ALL new trees get 4' plastic tree tubes staked with a 5' piece of re-rod. Pretty much eliminated deer and rabbit damage.
When I plant broadcast seed, it gets harrowed/raked in so the seeds aren't laying on the top of the soil. Mostly successful.
And, quite a bit of shooting. We were over run with 7 stripe ground squirrels (chipmunks) when we first bought the place. They would go down the row and dig up sweet corn seeds. The whole damn row.....
I put out a little pile of cheapo dried corn when I plant the real corn crop, AND that neat little pile is in a convenient place where I can pop the little vermin with a pellet gun or .22. I quit counting after a hundred the first year I did that. Now, I see a very very few around the house.
Anolther approach is a trap crop. If there is some plant that your noxious pest really likes, plant a big patch of that out on the edge somewhere to distract them from your high value crops.
Troy Rhodes wrote:Anolther approach is a trap crop. If there is some plant that your noxious pest really likes, plant a big patch of that out on the edge somewhere to distract them from your high value crops.
Thats a terrific idea! I think the majority of my problem is from the birds and quail. Does anyone know what they may like best? Maybe just throw out some regular bird seed and even a quail block on the other side of the yard to deter them?
Also are birds, quail, rabbits and squirrels capable of learning? Sorry if this is a stupid question... But can they learn that one side of the yard is ok, and my garden area is off limits (due to netting, electric fencing, bb guns, etc.)? Im wondering because if I plant a trap crop or put out seed they will just hit the yard even harder because they know there is food in that general area.
EDIT: Per your post above I think you covered these questions, must have been after you edited or its too early and I missed it lol! Very encouraging the squirels learned to fear your shooting skills haha! And I will just put some seed out in a pile of what im planting to really direct them! Thank you so much for your input, I feel I am heading in the right direction now!
Small kitchen gardener in Southern California here and I have this problem big time especially fall/winter planting a where seedlings aren't growing as fast and our winter birds are in full force. I never learn and always kick myself for not doing something , anything! Today I got out an old roll of tulle fabric for decorating the church and my wedding and just laid it down in stripes where I have down some peas and lettuce. Not exactly a large scale method although obviously you can purchase row covers. This is just what I had on hand ... We'll see
There is NO END to these critters, particularly since my neighbors junk in his back yard is a possum and rat nursery. They are easily dispatched.
Raccoons: trap them and relocate them. I don't get these but every 4 or 5 years or so, but they are smart and tough to catch.
Birds: co-exist. They do way more good in the garden than harm. I'll plant sunflowers and corn here and there in unused space, just to feed them. This morning I had a bunch of blue jays out in the orchard, enjoying the cobs of corn I threw out there for them. For the minimal damage they do, birds eat bugs, poop, and bring me a great deal of joy.
Other than the raccoons, all the others provide nutrients to the soil.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf