Posted on 29 January 2013 by urbangardencasual.com

5 Ways to Protect Ones Fruit Crop

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By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Oh how I love blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and gooseberries but so does rabbits, deer and other creatures of the wild.

While I am completely against killing these creatures great and small, I do utilize organic techniques that deter them away from my fruit crops.

Below are 5 techniques that I have used successfully.

The key to using these techniques is to always change it up. Animals, just like humans, become accustomed to everyday noises and distractions. Changing it up, keeps the animals on their toes or claws, no pun intended, and protects your crop.

1. Flash Tape – This tape is a specially designed tape that is red on one side and silver on the other. The tape is strung so that it twists upon it self. This twisting moves in the wind and gives the illusion of fire. To utilize this technique to its fullest, only put it out when you begin to see damage and take down at the end of the season or when the fruit is gone. Leaving it up will allow the animals to get used to it and it will become ineffective.

2. Loud Noises – A radio playing loudly can deter animals on a temporary basis. Some have found that sporadically creating booms or recorded sounds of screeching birds is another technique. The booms provide a surprise while the screeching can a recorded sound of a predator or a wounded animal. Either way, the sound is translated as a warning signal to stay away.

3. Scarecrows - The reason our ancestors built scarecrows was not as a decoration for fall but a way of scaring animals. How this works is two fold. First, the scarecrow is always clothed and in doing so the human scent emits from it. While this is temporary, it does deter animals on a short-term basis. The second way is by the movement of the clothing. As the wind blows, sleeves move and pant legs sway. This movement mimics human movement and in turn scares animals away.

4. Bird Netting – Covering your plants with netting is another choice. This netting is inexpensive and easy to spread out but this is not 100 percent animal proof. Small birds can still make their way underneath the netting and fruits on the edge of the netting are still fair game.

5. Fake Snakes and Owls - This technique utilizes nature prey verses predator principle. Laying a plastic snake in the blackberry thicket or hanging an owl in a tree will keep birds and other prey animals away for while. To enhance this technique, one will need to move the fake predators often.

Every gardener knows the heartbreak that is felt when one goes out to pick those delightful berries for the dessert that will complete that perfect meal. Utilizing the above techniques will allow you and the wildlife to co-exist in perfect garden harmony while you enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So until we blog again, may the only animal you find hiding in your strawberry patch be that shy elephant in the corner.

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