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Critters / netting

 
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Hello everyone, I am new to permies and this is my first post in hugelkultur.

We live in the California Sierra Mountain Foothills at 2800 feet. We have struggled with wildlife, weather and soil conditions. Our soil has poor drainage and our orchard was suffering. I dug down 3 feet x 6 feet for about 125 feet, packed it with filled it with logs and wood. It was placed in the shape of an arc in a section where one of the seasonal streams flowed. The idea was to to block it from hitting the orchard and allow the hugelkultur bed to soak up the water.

It was an amazing positive change. Plants growing in the bed thrived and we felt that after 7 years of trying, we turned the corner and the combination of electric fencing and the hugelkultur bed were going to finally allow us to enjoy the effort.

The celebration was premature. We next had gophers and ground squirrels digging into the hugelkultur bed. Tried SCRAM and eventually had an exterminator using carbon monoxide get things under control.  They came back and I bought and have been using a system that connects to a vehicles exhaust. It bothers me killing anything, but we had no choice if we were going to continue to try and grow food.

Finally got it under control. No new tunnels.........HOWEVER they use our place like a drive-thru. They come running from other properties, eat and run. So we went to protection bags. Slid them over the veggies and that worked really well, however now they are eating the plants. So now I am considering enclosing the hugelkultur bed in a net or creating some kind of structure. I would be happy to share with them, however they are not happy sharing with me. They will take out 100% of the vegetables.

Anyone have suggestions on how to deal with the Invasion of the Veggie Snatchers?

Pics of it being built and finished (attached)

Thanks in advance,
Don
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Welcome to Permies!
Me own mum has commercially purchased cages for her two small vegetable  gardens.
We have had issues with the closures and with rabbits chewing through the plastic netting.
With that in mind, I suggest a high tunnel/hoop house, made of chicken wire or hardware cloth over EMT tubing or rear.
 
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Hi Donald,

My best suggestion, reintroduce preditors, like Pine Martins, Weasels, Rat Snakes or what ever is the most effective: and a native preditor in your area, that won't be to pesky. Also encourage those native preditors in your area, to help control the rodent population, by improving preditor habitat, of preditors least likely to cause you issues. If you keep chickens, you'll need to make sure they are protected from the preditors your encouraging. Sometimes a Redtail Hawk perch, or other habitats to attract raptors and natural preditors, will keep rodents in balance, and not as emboldened to terrorize your garden. Since permaculture is working with nature to maintain balance, and find solutions. While also encouraging the benefits that healthy balence provides, its always best to encourage nature to find balance which takes care of itself. If this isn't possible, you may find temporary relief from decoys, like decoy owls or snakes, though in some cases, the unwanted rodents quickly figure the decoys out. Unfortunately, sometimes without those native preditors to keep healthy balance, trapping becomes natures friend, to prevent boom and bust cycles. Which through desecration of their available food sources, can cause starvation, disease and and untold suffering, that wouldn't occure with proper preditor balence: typically imbalance caused by pushing out preditors from human development. So if trapping becomes the case to prevent destruction of your property, maybe consider using the refuse for fertalizer, that way your at least turning the problem into a sustainable solution. Dig a hole where you plan on adding a tree, bury a measure of the accumulation of rodents there, and next season, it will be pre-fertalized and ready to plant your tree or plant.

Those aren't necessarily feel good solutions, unless you feel good about restoring balence in nature, and not wasting natural resources.
 
Donald Beck
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William Bronson wrote:Welcome to Permies!
Me own mum has commercially purchased cages for her two small vegetable  gardens.
We have had issues with the closures and with rabbits chewing through the plastic netting.
With that in mind, I suggest a high tunnel/hoop house, made of chicken wire or hardware cloth over EMT tubing or rear.



Something like this was the direction I was thinking but it would be huge to allow us inside of it to care for plants and harvest. Then I have the winter snow load to consider and so it needs to be either strong enough or portable. Maybe chicken wire up the sides for 3 feet and then bird netting which can be removed. Thanks for confirming my thoughts.
 
Donald Beck
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R. Steele wrote:Hi Donald,

My best suggestion, reintroduce preditors, like Pine Martins, Weasels, Rat Snakes or what ever is the most effective: and a native preditor in your area, that won't be to pesky. Also encourage those native preditors in your area, to help control the rodent population, by improving preditor habitat, of preditors least likely to cause you issues. If you keep chickens, you'll need to make sure they are protected from the preditors your encouraging. Sometimes a Redtail Hawk perch, or other habitats to attract raptors and natural preditors, will keep rodents in balance, and not as emboldened to terrorize your garden. Since permaculture is working with nature to maintain balance, and find solutions. While also encouraging the benefits that healthy balence provides, its always best to encourage nature to find balance which takes care of itself. If this isn't possible, you may find temporary relief from decoys, like decoy owls or snakes, though in some cases, the unwanted rodents quickly figure the decoys out. Unfortunately, sometimes without those native preditors to keep healthy balance, trapping becomes natures friend, to prevent boom and bust cycles. Which through desecration of their available food sources, can cause starvation, disease and and untold suffering, that wouldn't occure with proper preditor balence: typically imbalance caused by pushing out preditors from human development. So if trapping becomes the case to prevent destruction of your property, maybe consider using the refuse for fertalizer, that way your at least turning the problem into a sustainable solution. Dig a hole where you plan on adding a tree, bury a measure of the accumulation of rodents there, and next season, it will be pre-fertalized and ready to plant your tree or plant.

Those aren't necessarily feel good solutions, unless you feel good about restoring balance in nature, and not wasting natural resources.



I would agree we are out of balance. For many miles around us, there is no new development and when it does happen its a single home not a tract. It started about 3 years ago, its timing drought we had in some way and now a big problem for the general region. I have noticed fewer Hawks. Didn't consider this approach and will research predictors for our area and see if there is a reasonable way to use them or attract them to help without creating new problems. Since moving hear 8 years ago, we have dealt with bears and bobcats attacking chickens and the orchard, mountain lions attacking our goats, deer eating everything we planted and the list goes on.

I tend to think to be sure, I need a barrier I can trust. For us, the electric fencing of areas we care about has been a huge benefit. But that combined with what your suggesting would provide both a short and long term, solution.

Thanks
 
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I have to agree with R. Steele's advice, you have created a wonderful habitat for the now "Pest animals" so you need to encourage predators to come back and help you out.

Gophers and moles hate the odor of mint and they also hate lemon grass, borders of these in a mix or double layer border setup can help deter the critters from future invasion, especially as the plants become well established.
The side benefit is that you will have plenty of mint to use for cooking and making teas and lemon grass is also great for these two things.

For the ground squirrels, I never (in 4 years of living in Northern CA.), have found anything but cats or other predators that can keep them away

Redhawk
 
Donald Beck
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Not sure what I can do to attract predators. We have dozens of conifer trees that hawks could use as a perch. I know the hawk population is down. I use to watch them in a couple of our trees a 1/8 mile from the current problem, but hardly hear or see them. I am hoping they chose to move on as opposed to being poisoned. I am calling Fish and Game to see if they have info that can help me understand what has happened and if there is any way to increase the population.

I am using a product called underground exterminator. Its a rubber device that clamps to your exhaust and you connect a hose to it. It is suppose to be a humane way to deal with in ground pests.  For me it has worked in so far as they are not burrowing on my property, but they do come from others. It does bother me to kill any animal, but if I have to do it, for me this is the least disturbing way. I am hoping that they learn to stay clear like the deer have with our electric fence. While they are still around, the deer no longer consider going for our fenced garden areas.
 
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Dogs are predators. Terriers, in particular, are bred specifically for this job.
 
R. Steele
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Hi Donald,

I agree with Bryant  Redhawk about Domestic Cats being a great solution and a fierce preditor: if you get one that has good prey drive. Every cat is a little different, so adopting an older cat with already proven prey drive, might be a more accessible solution to your rodent situation. Every cat is different, but from my observations, the dark brindle color are more successful hunters. That color pattern may offer better camouflage, at least in low light loodland areas.  I've also heard certian breeds are more into hunting, like the Manx breed, though I can't state that from my own observations. Adopting a feral cat, that has strong prey drive could be a good solution. It gives a cat a home, and encourages the rodents to seek, less hostile pasture. The cat doesn't even have to be successful at catching them, if the cat has the drive to keep trying. That constant pressure alone will eventually encourage the rodents to move on.
 
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I have beds that are home to hundreds of snakes. Nothing venomous where I live. Rodents, wireworms and slugs seem to have been completely eradicated in this area. Snakes and domestic cats are not usually compatible. I've noticed that small snakes are hard to find in town where domestic cats are abundant. Snakes deal with rodents in the nest. Some really big snakes might take a full size gopher but many snakes can deal with nestlings.
 
Donald Beck
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William Bronson wrote:Welcome to Permies!
Me own mum has commercially purchased cages for her two small vegetable  gardens.
We have had issues with the closures and with rabbits chewing through the plastic netting.
With that in mind, I suggest a high tunnel/hoop house, made of chicken wire or hardware cloth over EMT tubing or rear.



Something like this was the direction I was thinking but it would be huge to allow us inside of it to care for plants and harvest. Then I have the winter snow load to consider and so it needs to be either strong enough or portable. Maybe chicken wire up the sides for 3 feet and then bird netting which can be removed. Thanks for confirming my thoughts.
 
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