Posted on 13 October 2011 by urbangardencasual.com

How to Keep Unwanted Guests Out of the Garden Space

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By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

The other day, I was out at the community garden and saw my first turkey.

I was told when I started the community garden project in my community that guard turkeys patrolled the area.

How I laughed at this thought.

Guard turkeys on military property. Poetic justice in action I suppose.

As I inspected the raised beds, I noticed the last bed I planted with donated tomatoes had been disturbed. How funny this was to me. The gardens are in the open and no cover is around for them to hide from predators. Who am I to question Mother Nature?

So I repaired the damage, placed some of my hair in the bed, and thought the situation was resolved. Two days later, I arrived at the community garden to open it up and was greeted by the guard turkeys. This time they were trying to not only nest in that same bed but also in the pile of seasoned horse manure. Again, nesting out in the open for foxes, wild dogs, raccoons, and bobcats to see.

So again, I repaired the bed and went on to complete other tasks in the garden space. As I was working I kept trying to come up with a non-invasive, organic way of deterring the turkeys. While everyone participating in the project understood that the wildlife could become a problem, I expected a problem with deer not turkeys. We had all agreed to only use non-invasive measures against the wildlife but before it could become a problem nature stepped in.

Prior to Mother Nature stepping in, I had purchased bird tape. This tape is made from Mylar and is silver on one side and red on the other. The package said that when it was twisted and the wind blew the flashes of red resembled fire to animals. This “fire” would deter animals away from the garden area. While this approach did keep the turkeys out of the garden bed I was still greeted by them at the gate and manure pile until…… I had a visitor I never saw.

On this particular visit to the garden space, I was not greeted by turkeys, rabbits or anything. The whole acre garden space was silent of sound and movement. As I looked over the garden space I saw a gift that was left by one of my fellow creatures. It was a deposit of cat manure just outside the raised beds. Just one little deposit, that was enough, to keep the turkeys and rabbits away. While I know this is only temporary at least our Bibb lettuce and seeds will be safe for a while.

Mother Nature, if left to do her part, is a wonderful thing. We, as gardeners, need to take note and mimic this behavior when possible. If you are having problems with rabbits and/or turkeys in your garden space this year, try a little domesticated cat manure. Simply place the manure around the garden space to deter rabbits and birds. Do not use directly in the garden. This is especially important when dealing with the vegetable garden. Dog and cat manures carry diseases that can be taken up by plants and if these plants are eaten can cause problems.

So instead of reaching for a pesticide or using invasive measure to rid your garden of pests, try some of Mother Nature’s tricks.

Until we blog again, gardeners and wildlife can unite without conflict if a few nature-made tricks are used. When in doubt though, just except that nature is for man and beast not just for the human feast.

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