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Old July 11, 2017   #1
Dewayne mater
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Default Full enclosure to stop rats, squirrels, possums birds, etc.?

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
N. Texas weather this summer was friendly to tomatoes, and with tools like a string trellis growing borrowed from folks like Bill from Alabama, I've had my best production ever. It seems like every critter for miles is well aware of this. I know that rats, possums, squirrels and birds have all enjoyed my tomatoes, especially over the last month. In the last week about 2 dozen 3/4 to 1 pound tomatoes have been eaten, typically before they blush. I'm thankful anytime I can pick one at first blush before a critter gets it.

I've tried traps, baits, fox urine, wrapping tomatoes in bags, etc with limited success this year, but, there are clearly more critters that would rather eat tomatoes than baits.

I think the only way I can have a higher harvest rate is to create a a full enclosure for next year. I want to try this concept next year on an area that is about 15'x20' where I use an old wooden swing set I use as the support for drop down lines and it is about 8 feet tall. Has anyone built something like this? If so, please share pics, suggestions, etc.

I use a shade cloth over this area about June 1 on to lower the temps. Potentially, this could serve as a "roof" because it has grommets that could connect to the "walls". I'm thinking something like chicken wire would be small enough to keep out rats, can anyone confirm that? They are tricky and can squeeze through a small space.

Will these critters dig under a chicken wire siding? Would they climb over a chicken wire and weasel their way between the wire and the grommets that are about 18 inches apart?

How would you give yourself easy access to such a structure? I have to be able to get in their daily, so it can't be too tough.

I'm open to any suggestions! Thanks.

Frustrated.

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Old July 11, 2017   #2
carolyn137
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It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

I know that,why do I know it and from where. Stuff like this drives me crazy so off to Google I go.

https://www.google.com/search?q=It+w...&bih=788&dpr=1

Problem solved.

Carolyn
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Old July 11, 2017   #3
clkeiper
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I guess it depends on how handy and what you have to work with and what is economical, too. My first thought is an actual greenhouse/hightunnel structure covered with either screen material, bird netting or chicken wire fastened to the structure with wirelock like we use on a plastic covered structure. and then fence it with electric fencing wire on a solar charged fencer. we fence the corn at about 8" off the ground and again at about 24" which keeps the skunks and coons out. it would keep the rodents out too if you are able to keep it low enough to the ground or use electric poultry netting around the structure.
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Old July 11, 2017   #4
garyjr
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Dewayne, I am thinking along the same lines as you. So far this year conibear 110 traps baited with marshmallow covered with peanut butter has helped reduce the squirrel population. But it has not eliminated the problem. How to cover but have easy access. I am curious to hear what others have to say about how to solve that problem.
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Old July 11, 2017   #5
Dewayne mater
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Dr. Carolyn - LOL! I believe we are in the times Dickens described in the tale of two cities, but, I was really referring growing many delicious tomatoes, only to have most raided by pests! Maybe Sisyphus would have been a better comparison!

CL - electric poultry netting? I like the sound of that! I don't think I bird netting will be effective on rats - not sure on the possums. It does need to be open to keep airflow and temps from rising - so plastic is out. Rats and possums have proven to be effective climbers going 5 feet off the ground to munch, so I was thinking full enclosure, but hadn't consider electricity to discourage climbing...interesting. If you get a chance, I'd love to see what you mean by fencing the corn at 8" and 24". Meaning an electric wire?

Last edited by Dewayne mater; July 11, 2017 at 01:30 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old July 11, 2017   #6
habitat_gardener
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We have one backyard fig tree, which I planted 3 years ago. The first year we got a few figs, and critters got the rest. So last year we built a cage around it while the figs were small, and it worked!

The frame is pvc tubes, 5 ft. square and 6 ft. high. We wrapped 6 pieces of metal screening around it, stapled to upright furring strips (because the screening we found was 3 ft x 7 ft). There's about a 1" overlap where we sewed the sections together with fishing line. At the bottom is a 4" section not stapled to the furring strips, so that we could place bricks on top of that 4" section all the way around to secure the bottom. Three of the furring strips are tied to each other across the top, providing stability and cross-bracing. (The 4th serves as the "door.")

Over the top, we draped some tulle from the fabric store -- a shiny spider-web pattern that I thought would be a good bird deterrent. The fabric wasn't 5 ft wide, so we sewed 2 pieces together. It's secured to the wire screening with clothespins, 4 per side. Small plastic containers sit on top of the 3 furring strips to prevent the wood from making holes in the fabric as the wind blows.

To get in, I remove the 4 clothespins from the "door" side of the structure, untie the furring strips at the top (secured with thick wire ties), lean the unbraced furring strip to one side, and go in. We're both thin enough to get in this way.

Last year we picked around 40 figs, so that would make it $2.50 per fig -- the structure cost about $100 in materials (not including the bricks, which we had). That cost per fig will be further reduced this year.

I've seen larger cages made with regular doors, and covered sides and top with chicken wire or hardware cloth, but that was much more than we needed.
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Old July 11, 2017   #7
clkeiper
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewayne mater View Post
Dr. Carolyn - LOL! I believe we are in the times Dickens described in the tale of two cities, but, I was really referring growing many delicious tomatoes, only to have most raided by pests! Maybe Sisyphus would have been a better comparison!

CL - electric poultry netting? I like the sound of that! I don't think I bird netting will be effective on rats - not sure on the possums. It does need to be open to keep airflow and temps from rising - so plastic is out. Rats and possums have proven to be effective climbers going 5 feet off the ground to munch, so I was thinking full enclosure, but hadn't consider electricity to discourage climbing...interesting. If you get a chance, I'd love to see what you mean by fencing the corn at 8" and 24". Meaning an electric wire?
yep... electric fence wire. we bought step in stakes at TSC. they are a fiberglass stake with three black wire holders which can be adjusted to a desired height. you set up your electric fencer right out in the weather if it is a solar one and under shelter if it is an electric one. you can run as many wires as you want I suppose but the lower the better for the rats and squirrels. we fence about an acre of corn every year. lots of work. dripping with sweat when we are done putting up a section but it is worth the effort to get the crop.
I wasn't thinking you would use plastic, just using the structure without the plastic and birdnetting (which is very tough) instead. you could ziptie the netting to the arches and wirelock/wigglewire ( a bit more of an investment but much easier to finish the job and take it off and put it on in the Spring if you remove it for a season) the netting at the bottom of the house.
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Old July 11, 2017   #8
imp
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A screen house? I do know rats can go through some chicken wire and will chew through some types of wire, too.
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Old July 12, 2017   #9
Starlight
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Don't know about alot of your critters, but I have learned that if I throw out some sunflower seed in two different places and scatter it out, the birds and squirrels don't touch the tomatoes. With them having to scrounge the bird seed from off the ground it keeps them busy and they don't mess with my plants.

I have these like little house wrens that in and around my tomato plants, but they meat eaters and after bugs on the plants and don't touch the tomatoes. I have a major squirrel population here, but the seed scattering works for me.
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Old July 13, 2017   #10
MissS
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Gardeners Supply has some enclosures and cloth that might give you some ideas of what they think is good for this. Here is a link, http://www.gardeners.com/buy/outdoor...ontrol-fences/
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Old July 13, 2017   #11
oakley
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The pleasures of gardening, a successful garden season, involves mindfulness, patience,
a healthy appetite for learning, researching and problem solving, and most important...
acceptance.

...and a boat-load of crap and a truck to haul it home in.

It is a bit like wack-a-mole. Once things balance out, one critter dealt with, or disease
solved, another takes its place.

Your plan should work being that small and if you already own the structure. Even the
inexpensive brackets used for saw-horses using 2x4's would work. The top horizontal
support is key for strength.

I've had all the critters and somehow they come and go, but I still have some fencing
for certain things to deal with over-population. Recently the heavy snake population has
sovled most of the critters like bunnies, and the various tunneling rodents.
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Old July 13, 2017   #12
Dewayne mater
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Thanks MissS - good to see what a pro would do. Mine won't be that fancy!

Oakley- Would love to have some of your snakes! The rats prolific this year and in fact, almost everything is. We had 5 year drought, but this winter was incredibly mild and we are on our 3 year in a row of average or above average rain. The critters are busy making new critters! The owl and bobcat that show up around here are fat, but the numbers aren't balancing out yet.
You are right about wack-a-mole. Just when you solve 3 problems, 4 new ones show up. It is not boring!

Any thoughts about the fencing material for the sides and where to get it?

Last edited by Dewayne mater; July 13, 2017 at 04:05 PM.
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Old July 13, 2017   #13
Dark Rumor
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Default Bird Netting

I had to stop the mocking birds and squirrels. I put the bird netting up and so far it has worked, but I do not have all the plants covered with the netting, so they eat the tomatoes that are uncovered. I cut slits in the netting and reach in to pick tomatoes.
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Old July 28, 2017   #14
bower
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I think Oakley is right... they come and go, and Dewayne, the better your garden is doing the more will come along.
I have sung the praises of row cover but critter populations are on the rise since last year when I grew many tomatoes outdoors, and composted a load of green fruit. And I've been careless... Came home this evening and my little "bean tent" had slumped to the ground again - not properly secured. Oh well. Then I happened to glance out the window and there is a squirrel at the end of my bean row, eating the LEAVES off a bean plant like it was the only food on earth. I mean stuffing it fast!!!! I banged on the window and he scampered off. By the time I got out of the back door he was back - standing there with one foot raised over the slump of cloth. The nerve!! I shooed him off and pulled up and secured the cloth, but it is not secure enough to stop him if he is bold enough to sneak under.
Soooo...enclosure building time has crept up on me... with a bushy tail.
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Old July 28, 2017   #15
TNTiger
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I'm feeling all the pain in this thread . . . literally. I threw away 3 huge tomatoes yesterday because squirrels had bitten into them and moved on. These were still green and on the verge of starting to blush. So far, they've decimated my garden, picking some plants clean. Every day I come home to find a half eaten tomato on the wall or on the ground.

I've thought about doing an enclosure but haven't ever gotten very far with it.
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