Our spring garden was off to an abundant start. We have been harvesting loads of carrots, pounds of green beans and sugar snap peas.
And waiting patiently for the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, corn, and squash…
Then last Monday morning, disaster struck. We woke up to discover at least a half dozen half munched on green tomatoes scattered across the garden. The Bear grabbed her magnifying glass and we began our investigation into the carnage.
Clue #1: The vegetables had bite marks on them. Clue #2: We saw a few stray white hairs near the partially chewed tomatoes. Clue #3: The animal was big enough to eat the tops of the 3-4’ tomato plants and the top half of leaves off the cucumber plant growing up the fence.
Hmmm, we decided it had to be DEER. We see them frequently in our neighborhood but had been naïve enough to believe they wouldn’t find our delicious backyard buffet.
After dropping the Bear off at preschool, almost two year old Bean and I immediately started to plan. We grabbed the crayons and began sketching feverishly. Unfortunately, we couldn’t rely on our old cutlery standby. (Forking the broccoli to discourage cats and squirrels.) Our first idea was to build “cages” out of PVC pipe and netting, but it was going to cost about $50 just for the pipes (not including all the joinery pieces). That was more money than I wanted to spend on this project. At that point, I figured I could just spring for a few trips to Whole Foods to satisfy our organic side dish needs.
So instead of using PVC, I found packs of 6’ bamboo stakes for $3 each.
We also grabbed two hole straps for ½” electrical conduit and some exterior screws for a few more bucks.
A 7’ x 100’ roll of deer netting for $18 bucks was the last item in the cart. (You could also use bird netting—it’s the same stuff.) So for around $30, I was able to get everything I needed to protect the veg!
I didn’t take a ton of pictures while I was working because ensuring The Bean didn’t escape into the snake infested preserve required creative time management. It was simple enough to attach the two hole straps to the corners of the garden beds. This gave the bamboo stakes enough support to remain upright once wrapped in the netting.
Once I had all the stakes in place, I simply (if there is such a thing when working with the catastrophe that is deer/bird netting) wrapped the netting around each bed and secured it on one side with twist ties. We love that it’s nearly invisible and doesn’t detract too much from watching the garden grow.
This kept the critters at bay for a week. Then we realized something was smart enough to reach under the netting… At least they only took off with two tomatoes and a pepper this time.
The next step will be securing the bottom of the netting. I plan to use landscape pins (usually used to hold down landscape fabric) to attach the netting to the ground. That will be easy enough to pull up for quick harvesting.
What cheap and easy tricks do you use to keep animals from getting all the garden goods?