An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure. ~ Ben Franklin
The Buck Stops Here!
Pest management is an inevitable part of growing food. That deliciously ripe, organic, pesticide free tomato looks just as delicious to the rest of the animal kingdom as it does to us – and they will take it if they can get it! Before last year, we had encountered pests such as squirrels, cats, birds, and leaf eating bugs. But it wasn’t until we started farming this suburban plot that we met the most formidable pest yet – deer!
Last year we installed a four foot fence around the garden, we even thought of rabbits, and so we buried a few inches of fencing to make it harder for them to burrow under. We also applied bird netting over top of the fence so that birds and squirrels would be prohibited from nibbling away at our beautiful bounty. These protective measures were an absolute joke to the family of deer (weighing at least 100 lbs. each) who visited our suburban plot regularly from mid-July to September. The average deer can jump about 6ft high, so our 4ft fence was no competition for them. The deer happily enjoyed a lion’s share of our tomatoes – and there was nothing we could do about it. This year we knew it was imperative to get the deer fence up before the tomatoes started to ripen on the vine.
Buying the fence materials is a worth while investment to protect the harvest. Nothing is quite as disappointing as nurturing a plant from seed for several months, watching it bloom into beautiful abundance, only for that harvest to be usurped by an annoying pack of deer. We spent a little time visualizing the configuration of the new fence, and then got to work buying the materials.
We were lucky to be able to reuse the 4ft fence from last year as the bottom half of the new fence, and bought another 50ft roll of 4ft fencing to complete the top half. To ensure the posts would be high enough to keep the deer out, we doubled the posts using a screw and nut.
The process began with us disassembling the old fence. We measured out each post six feet from each other, and got to work pounding the fence posts in. Once the first set of posts were in, we came behind and extended each post. After digging a shallow trench, we then took the fencing from last year and wrapped it around the bottom half of the posts. We were pleasantly surprised that the old fencing fit perfectly around the new configuration! Then we came around the posts with the new 4ft fence and affixed it to the posts. The final step was to connect the two 4 ft fences together to ensure it would stay strong if a deer decides to test it by applying pressure to it.
In the Nick of Time
Although the tomatoes have a couple more days until they begin to blush, we didn’t get this fence up a second too soon! During installation, I noticed a big, steaming pile of deer “calling card” outside the plot, as if they were recently checking the progress of the tomatoes too!