crows woods gardeners

Haddonfield Community Gardens

Keeping Crows Woods Critters at Bay

My 25+ years at the Woods have taught me to deal with animals that would like to share my harvest. While I don't begrudge their needs, I would like to keep most of my plantings since I put the work into creating them. Here is some guidance on this subject.

The main culprits are rabbits, chipmunks, mice and, on rare occasions, woodchucks. Their favorite vegetable targets are: a) the legume family (beans, peas, etc.); b) root crops such as beets, carrots, but not onions or potatoes; c) low hanging ripe tomatoes. I haven’t had problems with greens, except for Swiss chard. In my experience, critters don't seem to care for my lettuces, kale, or spinach. I don't have enough experience growing Brassicas such as broccoli to comment on.

Those Blooming Rabbits

Rabbits are the worst offenders by far. They are fairly rapacious and will devour as much of the above produce as they can get to; however, they are also the only critters that you can do much about. My personal solution for keeping them at bay is fairly easy. Since I don't care for fencing, I select an area, say a row, where I will place inexpensive chicken wire, held in place by short stakes. Be careful to ensure the fencing hugs the ground, thereby preventing rabbits, especially baby bunnies, from crawling under or wiggle through. Ithen place the plants that are vulnerable in this area and don't fence the rest of my plot. Chicken wire won't stop mice or chipmunks. They are small enough to slip through, but luckily the damage they cause is tolerable.

Try Row Covers

Row covers will also protect plants -- I rely on them for part of the season. I have read that pepper spray will work and will adhere to the plants for 2-3 weeks without washing off; however, I've never tried it myself. For the most part I rely on the chicken wire.

I don't cage my tomato plants so the low hanging ripe tomatoes are vulnerable to rabbits since they are easy to reach. My best defense strategy in this case is to place ordinary plastic bags around the lowest fruits before they ripen.

Use these tips and you will get to take more of your produce home for your own enjoyment! Please share any other ideas you have on this topic for the benefit of all gardeners.

Anthony Calabretta, Plot # 3
Edited by Nancy Calabretta