Kildare Post Gardening Column – The Vegetable Garden Defensive
It has reached that time of year when you should be able to start harvesting all the fantastic crops that you have loving cared for over the past few months. But they are under threat and still need some protecting to ensure you manage to harvest everything you potentially can. An edited version of the below article was first published in the Kildare Post on 16 September 2014.
The Vegetable Garden Defensive by David Corscadden
You have spent months and month on your hands and knees planting seeds and pulling weeds. Then there was the back breaking work of watering and nurturing the growing plants. You would think that now is the time that you can relax and reap the rewards from your vegetable patch. You would be wrong, there is still some work to do. And it may be the biggest job of all – Defence.
Now that all your plants have matured and are either ready for harvesting or are just on the brink of ripening, it is time to defend from attack. At this time of year there are a good few enemies in the garden. From the ever present snails and slugs, who will be slightly more active with the damper weather, to birds who will be launching aerial attacks on your fruit trees in the coming weeks.
When it comes to snails and slugs one of the first methods people will turn to is slug pellets. One interesting way that has worked for me, since I heard about it, is placing a jar or bottle on it’s side with the slug pellets inside. They are attracted to the pellets so will migrate towards the containers and meet their faith.
Having the pellets in the containers means other visits to the garden are less likely to come in contact with them. It is important to remember though that if you do use pellets to collect the deceased slugs and snails and dump them in the bin so birds or other animals don’t eat them. Other solutions include broken egg shells, spent coffee grounds and horse hair.
Birds pose the biggest threat at this time of year in my eyes. From pigeons attacking brassica crops to birds pinching your autumn raspberries or blueberries, it can be a fight to save some for yourself.
When it comes to protecting brassicas in the veg patch, you can’t go wrong with good quality netting that is properly secured to the ground so no entry is available. For fruit bushes and apple trees, to prevent birds eating or knocking off fruit, there are a few options.
Most involve creating movement. Stringing up old CDs from tree branches or from canes has worked well for me in the past. A new idea that I heard about involves tying strips of tin foil from branches to deter birds. It works in the same way as the CDs in that it is reflective and moves easily in a light breeze so scares birds off.
After all the work that has been put in to growing your own food, it is important to act fast on the defence movement to ensure you get to enjoy your bounty.
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