A morning in early June, the garden is chock full of wonderful things in various stages of development. There are young tomato and pepper plants, delicious Swiss chard, cauliflower and broccoli heads ripe for the plucking, but…
Flash forward to the following day. A casual tour of the garden reveals no cauliflower heads at all. The broccoli is ravaged, the chard nothing but a fond memory. The peppers and tomatoes remain but they too have been tasted and apparently found wanting.
What in the world just happened here?
Welcome to northern New Jersey, fellow veggie gardeners. You love your fresh veggies, your family, neighbors and friends are equally enthusiastic. But the list of gardening enthusiasts does not stop there. Closely watching the progress of the produce are bunnies, woodchuck, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, the occasional bear, and if you are growing corn, raccoons. Also admiring not so much the veggies as the fresh loose soil are your very own beloved dogs and cats which will dig in it like badgers.
The garden is one big target and the only way to secure it from furry raiders may be a fence.. A fence will deter rabbits easily, and deer if it is at least 8’ high – while acting as a terrific trellis. It will keep out dogs and most cats. It may also deter woodchucks, but woodchucks can dig beneath and also climb over the top. To discourage them from digging the fence must be continued underground; to stop them and the raccoons, squirrels and chipmunks from climbing it must be electrified. If the bear likes what he smells – usually winter squash or melons – he’s going in.
A bit daunting, is it not?
Cheer up. The deer, woodchucks and bunnies are the worst, unless you have corn. Keep them out and most of the garden can be protected with readily available predator scent deterrents. In the case of a really persistent woodchuck or raccoon mob the only solution may to live trap and relocate the varmints, but check local and state ordinances before doing so.
Whatever your particular furry pest may be, you do need that fence to keep the fruits of your labors at a distance from them, and to help cucumbers, peas and beans to reach for the sunlight.
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