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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Protecting the Seedlings


As I might have mentioned, my critters are crazy.  Rabbits cozy up in the shade of the carrot fronds, squirrels bounce with great enthusiasm off the fence and into the garden, and chipmunks burrow under anything they can't climb over or squeeze through in order to get at my tender plants.  It makes gardening a challenge when, as happened this year, one day I have a beautiful row of peas sprouting in a greenhouse, and the next day I have a row of weeping little seedling stumps.

We have tried everything we can think of to fence the critters out, which was making the garden messy-looking and was doing more to keep the gardeners out of the garden than the critters.  So this year, we are trying a new approach, and so far I am happy.

What you see above is a little tunnel of hardware cloth (that metal mesh stuff you can use to make fences or screens) with openings about a half inch square.  Mr. FC&G bent these pieces of metal into a half tube for me, and then I shoved them in the ground over my newly-planted seeds and put bricks over the open ends.  So far, it is protecting the seedlings while they have those yummy first cotyledon "leaves" that the critters so like to munch.  I plan to take them off when the seedlings have a set or two of real leaves, because by that point the critters seem to not like the taste quite so much.  Vertical gardening then allows me to at least attempt to keep my tomatoes and cucumbers with the fruit hanging high enough that most critters can't reach it.  (Although rabbits will go to great lengths for Black Krim tomatoes!)

The Analysis


Fast:  Much faster than fencing, we just bent some half-tubes of hardware cloth and shoved them in the ground over the seed rows.


Cheap:  Also much cheaper than fencing, because you protect just what you are growing with just enough "fencing."


Good:  So far, so good, anyway.  I'll keep you posted about whether this continues to work, but I think I may have succeeded in protecting my seedlings.

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