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.