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Protecting your veggies from wildlife that want to eat your veggies

Updated: Apr 8

With the early onset of the dry season, we will already be finding small animals venturing into our yards to look for food. Dealing with birds and rats that are eating your crops before they're ready can be frustrating, but there are several short term and long-term

strategies you can implement to protect your garden:

1. Bird Deterrence:

Lately we have been dealing with indigenous quail (kwale) in our vegetable garden in Lusaka. Although in principle we believe in living alongside nature, these inconspicous birds have now taken to eating our vegetable seedlings as they germinate, so in spite of diligently planning and planting the garden we have almost nothing to show for it.

  • Netting: Cover your crops with bird netting or mesh to create a physical barrier that prevents birds from reaching your plants.

  • Scare Devices: Place reflective objects such as CDs, aluminum foil strips, or old pie pans around your garden. Birds are often deterred by the shiny and moving objects.

  • Decoys: Set up decoys of predatory birds like owls or hawks to discourage smaller birds from approaching.

  • Noise and Movement: Hang wind chimes, use motion-activated sprinklers, or play recorded bird distress calls to startle and discourage birds.

We have been entertained watching this Youtube channel where he creates effectively quail traps.

2. Rat Control:
  • Remove Attractants: Keep your garden area clean by picking up fallen fruits and vegetables promptly, as these can attract rats.

  • Secure Compost: If you have a compost pile, ensure it's properly sealed and not a potential food source for rats.

  • Traps: Set rat traps near areas where you suspect rat activity. Make sure to place traps safely and in accordance with local regulations.

  • Natural Predators: Encourage natural predators of rats, such as snakes, owls, and certain types of cats, to frequent your garden area.

  • Seal Entry Points: Rats can squeeze through small openings. Seal any gaps or holes in fences, walls, or structures to prevent their entry.

3. General Prevention:
  • Mulch: Applying mulch can make it harder for rodents to access the soil and dig up your crops.

  • Elevated Planters: Consider using raised beds or elevated planters to make it more difficult for rodents to reach your crops.

  • Timing: Plant your crops earlier in the season, so they have a chance to establish before bird and rat populations increase.

  • Repellents: Use natural repellents like hot pepper spray, garlic spray, or commercial repellents to deter pests from approaching your plants.

  • Regular Inspection: Inspect your garden daily to identify signs of damage or pest activity. This allows you to take prompt action before the problem worsens.

Remember that pest control is an ongoing process. It may require a combination of strategies and adjustments to find what works best for your specific situation.

Experiment with different methods and be prepared to adapt as needed to protect your crops and enjoy a successful harvest.

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