Stop pests storm­ing the bar­ri­cades


It’s harvest time and friends of ours have gone on hol­i­day, re­ly­ing on us and other neigh­bours to look af­ter their home and gar­den, invit­ing us to pick as we do.

This has been a plea­sure and in­spi­ra­tion be­cause they spend most of their wak­ing hours grow­ing fruit and veg­eta­bles, grains and un­usual beans ga­lore. They also have a nut for­est of sorts in­clud­ing hazel and pine nuts.

The fruit cage is a 20-me­tre by 10m net­ting en­clo­sure with a Gar­den of Eden essence, where straw­ber­ries don’t get eaten by birds, grapes hang ripe and un­mo­lested, cher­ries, cock­tail kiwi and all sorts of berries grow. There are also toma­toes, cur­rants and bor­lotti beans.

But on our last visit there was trou­ble in par­adise. We no­ticed a black­bird in the berry cage. Af­ter about half an hour shoo­ing it up and down the length of the en­clo­sure, at the risk of let­ting the rest of the flock in, we re­treated, leav­ing the door open overnight, hop­ing the bird would es­cape. It did and the gar­den was fine.

Our own gar­den, not so good. Amid young seedlings of cab­bage, car­rot and spinach, our dog de­cided to bury her rab­bit catch.

So while an enor­mous cage doesn’t guar­an­tee a pest-free gar­den, a chicken wire fence will cer­tainly help keep some of the pesky varmints out.

A boundary fence also de­fines an area.

The say­ing is that good fences make good neigh­bours and the same might ap­ply to the gar­den ter­ri­tory.

A fence says ‘‘here is where im­por­tant plants grow and they need pro­tec­tion’’.

It can be as sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive as chicken wire and posts or sharp­ened bat­tens, or for un­treated tim­ber use macro­carpa and re­place as they rot.

A picket fence is at­trac­tive but you can also make a rus­tic ver­sion us­ing wil­low or other branches be­tween nar­row planks nailed to posts. A fence could also be wind net­ting or bet­ter still trel­lis which pro­vides for climbers.

To keep rab­bits out, you can try se­cur­ing fenc­ing be­low ground level, to put off dig­ging pests and make it tall enough to dis­cour­age leap­ing over.

Cats are a bit harder to de­ter but have their uses scar­ing birds.

What­ever the boundary fence is cre­ated from, you now have some­thing to en­ter. Once in­side, you find your­self in an­other world.

Harvest time: Gar­dens are fill­ing our bas­kets and larders.

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