Friday, July 03, 2009

How to Protect the Vegetable Garden from the Groundhog, Part 3: New Eight Foot Tall Screens Around the Raised Beds

One of this season's projects has been to better protect the vegetable garden. As frequent readers of this blog know, enemy number one is the groundhog that lives next door in my neighbor's yard. The extra tall fence around my backyard keeps out the deer and my one year-old cat effectively deters most of the smaller pests--rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks. Unfortunately, I have been ineffective against the groundhog.
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Part 1 of this year's project was to build a chicken wire fence cover over one of the raised beds with short vegetables. You can read about that here.
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Part 2 of this year's project was to reinforce the open post and rail fence with chicken wire and build pest proof gates for the three openings. You can read about that here.
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After parts 1 and 2 of this project, the first two months of the growing season were pest free with no break-ins from the groundhog. Then, last week, he broke in. I don't know how he did it, but he did. My poor beans and cucumbers were mowed down. He even had the audacity to push the chicken wire cover off just enough to squeeze in and help himself to some Russian kale. After having such a good start to the season, and seeing the damage he did in a single visit, I must confess that I thought of just giving up. My son responded with my own words: there is no giving up in gardening. I told my husband that he had to do something.
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How to Protect the Vegetable Garden, Part 3
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The first part was easy, so easy in fact, I can't believe we didn't think of this before. In the four corners of the chicken wire raised bed cover, we put in long stakes. Now, it cannot be pushed over.
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The second part took a trip to the hardware store and more effort. As you see in the picture, my husband built four 5'x8' screens around each of the other two raised beds that contain the taller vegetables. The two far sides are nailed into the box. The two near sides are tied on with bow ties that can easily be tied and untied for access to the vegetables. Here are some simple instructions that can be adapted to your needs:

a. Buy eight foot 1x2s. We needed four 5'x8' screens for each raised bed, so my husband needed to buy thirty-two for the two raised beds we wanted to protect.
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b. Cut your 1x2s to the desired length.
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c. Nail your 1x2s together to make the frames of your screens. My husband put two 1 1/2 inch nails into each corner.
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d. Cover your frames with deer fence netting. For such a large area, this is much lighter, cheaper and easier to work with than the chicken wire.
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e. Nail two screens to the sides of your vegetable box where you need the least access.
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f. Tie the other two screens to the fixed screens with rope that can easily be untied and re-tied for your access.
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Hopefully, there will not be a Part 4 of this year's story.

2 comments:

sar said...

Good lord! Now how do YOU get into the garden on a regular basis?! Is it not perhaps time for Mr. Groundhog to be relocated (can you capture and release him possibly? or have a pest control guy come in and get rid of him?). I know he lives at the neighbor's place but goodness. What a lot of trouble to have to go to because of one rodent.

Sylvana said...

WOW! You have one tenacious groundhog! We had a groundhog living in our garden shed for years. It was a good groundhog though -- only really liked to eat weeds. It did love to roll in my greens though -- but a simple low push-in fence did the trick. It's the rabbits I can't seem to thwart. I had one have her babies INSIDE the rabbit fenced enclosure! She was somehow able to get in and out easy enough to take care of them.
Good luck!

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