Knowing how to protect crops is vital to a thriving garden and successful homestead. Few things are more frustrating than losing part of your harvest to hungry wildlife!
How To Protect Your Garden
Over the years, we have learned many different ways to protect our garden from animals. The fact is, it’s a challenge to protect your garden from predators. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution!
In our trials and errors, we’ve learned the strengths and weaknesses of every deterrent we’ve tried. How you protect your garden from predators is largely determined by where you live since the kind of animals and their population varies by area.
Simple Wisdom For Dealing With Common Garden Predators
We’ve experienced loss of produce to rabbits, deer, birds, raccoon, mice, and armadillos. You may have other predators that cause you problems. I have a friend who had a problem with neighborhood cats using her raised beds as litter boxes.... gross. Geographic location is a large part of the picture.
There’s an old saying, “One for the mouse, one for the crow, one to wither, and one to grow.” If you only have a small problem with loss of crops to animals, you may just want to plant a little extra to keep them off your main crop.
You may not be able to do this if you live in an area with densely populated wildlife. Get creative.. you can find a way to keep your crops protected! Try some of the things below and tweak them to work for your property.
Fences to Protect Your Garden from Animals
The most effective way to keep animals out of your garden is the use of an electric fence. When it is on, they sense it somehow and avoid it. With the new solar powered models available, anyone can setup an easy electric fencing system.
Some people are worried about hurting the animals, but keep in mind it's not a deadly zap! If an animal is zapped by the fence, it doesn’t kill them and, in my observations, they teach one another to stay away.
If you lose power for any reason, predators will know it and will likely consider your garden open for dinner. Grass growing under the fence, a limb on a line or even a loose connection can cause grounding out. To avoid this, check your fence at least once a day.
Combine Fence Types for Better Protection
Combining fence types can help protect your garden from predators. Combining can make up for weaknesses which exist in any type of fence - why have a normal fence when you can make a super one?!
For instance, with electric fencing, run two strands of electric wire. Put the bottom wire four to six inches off the ground and the second line two feet above the first. This keeps the small animals out of the garden and gives the others a good smell of the current.
Combine this with running a line of thick string along the top of the posts. You can also tie old CDs or tin pie plates to the top of posts. Why? Because the string, pie plates and CDs move in the slightest wind!
The pie tins make noise, and the CDs reflect light from the sun and moon. Deer, raccoons, and birds are especially deterred by the movement, sound, and reflection. One more problem solved! You can see in the picture below, just a few CDs on fence posts is all it takes!
Enclosing your garden with a wooden fence three to four feet high and running poultry wire on the inside is another fencing option. It can be done cheaply by using pallets or reclaimed wood.
Remember, while hardware wire will keep rabbits and your poultry out of the garden, it will not keep birds, raccoons, and other climbers out.
A friend in Idaho sets logs on their ends two feet in the ground leaving 3 feet above ground. Every ten feet he has a 10 foot log set two feet in the ground. He never has a problem with deer or elk! He said that before a deer or elk will jump a fence, it assesses the highest point to determine if he can jump it.
I suggest adding pie plates or CDs to any fence just for an added layer of protection. This type of fence requires no power and lasts for years.
The Infamous Scarecrow (Not always scary to a crow)
The crow is a tough opponent. He is an intelligent creature. After sitting in the trees observing all that is happening on the fence line, he will recognize the middle of the garden is safe.
A scarecrow can be effective, but especially so with CDs and pie plates tied to him. You will have to move him from time to time as the birds get used to him!
Other Suggestions to Protect Your Garden from Predators
- It may sound crazy, but save your hair after a haircut and scatter it around the garden perimeter. Some people say it works, because it has the smell of a human and animals will avoid it. In my experience, rain and sun removes the odors so it doesn’t last long.
- Playing a radio all night in the garden has proven to keep racoons and other night predators at bay.
- If possible, place your garden close to the house. This allows you to keep a close eye on things and frequent visits will leave your scent. Also, the coming and going can disrupt a predator’s plans!
- One of the best ways to protect your garden from predators, especially at night, is a good dog. As he roams around at night, he will protect your garden from animals and notify you if there’s something you need to check on. Eventually the animals learn he is there and avoid your garden altogether.
- Cats are famous for controlling the rodent population on farms!
- Try planting sage, rosemary, cilantro, lavender, oregano, or any combination of these in and around your garden. They tend to repel deer, raccoons, mice, and rabbits.
Try one idea, or try them all if you need to. Do whatever it takes to protect your harvest from pesky critters and wildlife!
You might also enjoy:
- Things to Consider Before Adding Animals to Your Homestead
- 5 Things I Wish I'd Done Before the Harvest
- What Are Cover Crops For Gardens?