- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardener
I moved to a rural area this year so we can have a big vegetable garden, but I am ready to give up! Everything I planted has been eaten or destroyed. Travis, Paso Robles.
Keeping your vegetables, flowers or other perennials safe from vertebrates, large or small, can be a challenge. Exclusion in the form of a fence is a great way to keep animals like deer, pigs, and rabbits at bay. The fence should be up to 12 feet tall, “non-climb” wire with the bottom partly buried so animals cannot dig under. If a permanent fence is not possible, protect areas that are animal favorites; for example, rose bushes. These areas can be fenced in with a few bamboo stakes and chicken wire. Another option often seen with sheep and poultry are electric woven fences which you can move around your property as needed (great for raccoons and possums).
Four-legged or feathered thieves can threaten fruit trees once fruit has set, but inexpensive netting can save your harvest. If you are establishing a new perennial garden, protect young plantings for 1 to 2 years with fencing or netting.
Gophers and squirrels are challenging burrowing animals. Trapping is a good way to gradually rid your property of these vertebrates. If gophers are abundant, plant veggies in raised beds lined with gopher wire and use gopher baskets when planting perennials and trees. Squirrels are attracted to brush and rocks piles, so begin by eliminating these nesting sites. Enlist the help of natural predators by establishing owl and raptor boxes. These projects are perfect for the fall and winter months, so come springtime, the only one enjoying the fruits of your labor will be you and yours!
To learn more about protecting your garden from vertebrate pests, please join us at the UCCE Master Gardener Advice to Grow By workshop on Saturday, June 15, in our demonstration garden at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, 10:00 am to noon. If inclement weather, it will be moved to the auditorium. Garden docents will be available after the workshop until 1:00 p.m./span>