Gardening in the Wild Forest

Our garden and chicken coop/run

While I love living in a ruralish area with lots of treed areas nearby, and I love having chickens ranging about the yard, sometimes both the chickens and the critters that come along with all that nature can view my garden as an all you can eat buffet. Over the years we’ve gradually added defenses to our yard in an attempt to keep some of the beasties away from things we’d rather they not eat.

PVC frame with chicken wire to protect my strawberries

First we added frames over some of our raised beds to keep out rabbits. They were really simple to make by using the connecty pieces (official term!) and pieces of PVC and lift off easily when I need to pick or weed. We’ve wrapped it in chicken wire fencing (the strawberry pen has a layer of bird netting also).

Another PVC frame for my lettuce, spinach and kale

These are also necessary for my greens–although this year it backfired when some caterpillars cut loose on my kale and the birds, who would have been glad to make a snack of them, couldn’t reach them either.

Bird netting over the blackberries

Speaking of birds. Almost every year I watch the blackberries ripen only to find that the birds and deer got to them the day before I was sure they’d be ready. Bird netting helps deter them. I’m hoping to beat the birds to a few berries this year.

Hopefully a deer proof fence

Almost every year we’ve had a disastrous invasion by deer. I was ready to give up on gardening all together but instead I’ve decided to fight back. This year we used dog kennel panels to completely fence in our garden with a six foot high fence. Now all we have to do is remember to keep the gate shut!

Turkey ready for me to toss him a caterpillar. If there wasn’t a fence between us he’d eat my garden in a few minutes.

It is a good thing that fence is between the garden and the turkeys. They stick their long necks through the fence to try to grab any leaf they can reach and pace back and forth when I”m gardening (I toss clippings and any bugs I find their way)

Racoon proof (hopefully!!!) chicken coop and fenced in chicken run

While I love the idea of the poultry free ranging through our entire yard, they were ranging in to areas I didn’t want them in so we put up some cross fencing to give them a huge yard to roam in—that is far away from my flowers. The turkeys in particular LOVED the flowers in my fairy garden. While I found this humorous — I kept imagining them as great feathered godzillas bringing a reign of terror to my little Japanese speaking fairies— I really didn’t want them to eat all my flowers. Now they have some room but I don’t have to maintain constant vigilance over their appetites.

At night, the chickens are closed into the coop with all doors latched and “locked” with carbigner clips. We haven’t lost any chickens to possum or raccoons yet, but I’ve heard they leave a grisly trail and so we’ve tried to make the coop raccoon proof.

Having to defend our garden from both our own animals and those in the wild does add greatly to the cost of gardening but I’m hoping it will pay off with more of my efforts making it to our dinner table.

random squash plant

Of course, just to prove that I really have no idea what I’m doing, or control over much, the star so far this year on my garden is this squash plant that grew up volunteer in my compost pile.

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