Protect Your Seedlings From Animals And Birds
by Ron Williams
No matter how much people try to encourage the wildlife to visit and live in their gardens. There will always be occasions and/or parts of the garden where we do not welcome them. This being mainly when we are planting young seedlings or a crop of edible plants is getting close to harvest. So we have to strike a balance between encouraging the wildlife as well as being able to discourage them at other times or from certain particular places.
There are four ways of protecting your plants or crop from the ravages of birds and animals; these methods include fences, scarers, covers and sprays. Here we will deal with suggestions for the last three of these ideas. Most of these ideas though will only provide a temporary solution, because most times the birds or wildlife, while scared off at first will eventually stop being frightened and will return and ignore or bypass that method in future. So it is an idea to only use each idea for a short time, and then later switch to a different system of control.
Scarers usually rely on something to surprise the wildlife's vision or hearing, to frighten them into leaving.
If you have some small cheap bells lying around or you can pick some up cheap, then string them along a length of twine over your plants.
Bottle Top Scarers
String a series of metal and or plastic bottle tops between stakes driven into the ground at the outside of the area to be protected. Make sure that they can move easily in the slightest breeze or at the gentlest touch. It also helps if some of them can rattle together to add a bit of noise. Tie one off every so often so that it cannot move, this will stop them all migrating to the lowest point of the length of string.
Drink Bottle Rattle Scarer
Partially fill some drink bottles with a fairly light product like rice or dried peas, put enough in to make it into a rattle. Then tie them along some twine tied over your young plants. If animals tap them or the breeze is blowing they will make a noise, to frighten the small critters away.
Drink Can/Bottle Scarers
Tie some cans or bottle along some twine so that they can bump together to make a noise if tapped or moved by a breeze, to frighten the small animals or birds.
If you have one of those little whirligigs that have a blade that goes around in the breeze, why not set it up near your plants it will scare the birds away as long as the wind is blowing.
Unless you are fairly good at both art and woodcraft and can make one yourself, you will probably have to go out purchase one of the commercially made Hawkscarers and set it up following the directions in the pack, to frighten away the birds.
Here you can either go out and purchase a small cheap kids kite or look at making your own kites. To cover your kite, you can use anything from material through to old foil wrapping paper, kitchen foil or even plastic shopping bags. Even kites made to be only a few inches across, can be an effective scarer, if you hang them to blow in the breeze.
Rip or cut some scraps of brightly coloured or reflective material into small strips. Tie them to twine over the plants to be protected, leave enoughdangling to flap around in the breeze, to scare the birds.
Have a go at making a Scarecrow, it may or not be effective at scaring the birds, but it almost be guaranteed to become a piece of landscaping artand a talking point around the neighbourhood.
Silver Foil Scarers
Aluminium foil or used Foil wrapping paper, which is cut into strips to hang on twine through the area will scare the daylights out of any creature which moves it, or sees it moving in the breeze. Or try wrapping polystyrene or ping-pong balls in the foil, and hang these through the area.
Water Hose/Sprinkler Scarer
Position a garden hose either up into a strong branch of a fruiting tree. Or tie it to a garden stake in the middle of your young plants. Leave a few feet loose above the top point at which you tie it off. When you notice birds descending on your plants. Turn the hose on as hard as you can. This will result in the end of the hose flapping around rather wildly gushing out a strong stream of water. This is usually enough to frighten anyone let alone the local wildlife. Repeat this a few times and the birds or wildlife will soon not bother coming back.
Wind Chimes Scarers
Why not try and hang your old wind chimes in the area that you want protected.
Wine Cask Bladder Scarer
Take the nozzle out and use like a box kite. Or blow them up like balloons.
Use some of your old tinsel, or buy some up cheap in the post Christmas sales. Allow plenty of loose material to permit the tinsel to move around in the breezes.
Material, foil or plastic set up to flap in the breeze like either a sail or pennant, can be an effective scarer.
Try your hand at making your own miniature version of an Airport's Windsock to frighten the birds and animals.
If you have the type of family that has clothes drying on a clothes line most days, then place your young plants in pots around the base of the clothes line or set up a movable clothes airer near your delicate plants filling the lines with clothes and linen which will flap around a bit will also be an effective bird and small animal scarer.
Mirror ball Scarers
Purchase at a discount price (cheap) store or make your own small mirror balls to hang in and around your plants. These mirror balls van be made from boxes or polystyrene balls, ping pong ball etc, and sticking anything shiny and reflective to them from small mirror tiles, foil, broken pieces of mirror or the like. Hang these where they will have the opportunity catch and reflect sunlight.
If you have an old plastic snake at the bottom of the old toy box, why not try putting it in amongst your plants. While I have never tried this method myself, I have heard of others who swear by this scarer. Move it around every so often.
Toy Animal Scarers
What about the idea of strategically placing a realistic looking toy dog or cat near your young plants. The theory being that the birds or small animals will already have had experience with real cats and dogs so will avoid any area with them.
(This is theoretical suggestion, which I haven't seen tried but is based on the supposed success of the plastic snakes). So if anyone has the opportunity totry this one, let me know the results, please.
Whereas putting a cover over or around the plants physically stops the animals from reaching the plants.
Glass/ Hard Plastic Covers
If you have a pane of glass or an old window that is not being used put it over your young plants, lift it above the plants using whatever is available to you, eg bricks etc.
Milk/Yoghurt Container Covers
Cut the top and bottom out of cardboard or plastic containers and slip these over young plants to stop birds and other animals from digging them out till they are established. It helps to bury the bottom of the container slightly. This idea works just as well with any round or square material that will go round your young plants, from drink bottles to small sections of plastic plumbers pipe. But always cut them down one side to make removal easier once the plants have grown a bit.
Plastic/Shadecloth/Bird netting Covers
Make a framework of stakes around the plants that you want to protect, and place over this a shadecloth/plastic or bird netting cover. Shadecloth or plastic can be purchased by the foot/metre from nurseries or hardware stores. Or you can even just throw the shadecloth or bird netting directly over the plants/shrubs or small trees, if the plant is strong enough to support the weight of the material.
Stick and String Covers
Whether you are trying to protect a pot of seedlings or a bigger area out in the garden. Make up a framework of sticks or garden stakes around the seedlings, and then tie them loosely together by weaving some string, cotton, wool or twine between the sticks/stakes.
Wire Netting Covers
Support some of that light flexible fencing wire, mosquito mesh or even plastic mesh over your seedlings of fruiting plants, and support it with garden stakes to keep the birds away from your plants.
Hard Wire Frame Covers
Try supporting some hard wire mesh over your young plants to protect them from the ravages of birds or animals. You can use things like light concreting mesh or fencing panels, or whatever else you can access around the place. Support them up off the ground with garden stakes, bricks or even soft drink bottles filled with water.
The reason for applying a spray is to make the animals think that the targeted plant or fruit is not as tasty as they at first believed it should be. But it usually takes a bit of experimentation to find what will work with particular pests. As each have their own likes and dislikes even within the one species.But try mixing hot or unpleasant but safe ingredients together to make a spray diluted with water to spray over your seedlings of fruiting plants. Try to avoid spraying fruit that you will eat, or rinse such produce well before consuming.
Some ingredients you might try include,
The above list of ideas should be enough to provide you with at least a few alternatives that you can try to combat those ravenous critters that are bombarding your young charges.
© Ron Williams 2002
Ron Williams is a Freelance writer,a Horticulturist and a Rehab' Therapy Aid at a Psychiatric Hospital in Brisbane, Queensland,
Australia. He writes ezines for wz.com. He runs his own Website called Bare Bones Gardening.
He also owns a discussion group about Aussie' Gardening, called Austgardens at Yahoo.com.
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