Birds & Gardens

ChemGal

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The birds have started to really destroy some of my plants this year. Not sure what's up, I don't notice any birds looking all that different than other years.

We used to only have issues with the berries, and then very occasionally a magpie might go after a tomato. Out of multiple plants though it would be a handful of tomatoes.

My beets are currently covered in netting. There was a tiny bit of damage before that I wasn't really sure what at the time. In a day's time though it became obvious and I have some beets, mostly all in one row that I just expect will die off at this point. It's my 3rd or 4th year growing beets.
Peas - also a problem. At first I thought it was a few nibbles on the highest plants. After the beets though I looked more carefully, the sugar snap peas I'm not sure if I'm going to get any, some I thought were just behind, nope now I see they were cut off low. Others were starting to flower, wasn't noticing new ones, I think it's just because there was a steady state between new flowers and what was eaten. Peas now are also covered. Not sure if the sugar snap ones are, I told Chemguy not to bother, but I think the piece he cut off was big enough for both.

Then I look at my cucamelons, I haven't been getting these going early enough so bought plants last year and this year in addition to mine which are lagging behind. We bought them with a reasonable number of fruit & flowers. I kept telling Chemguy there were more earlier and thought the wind may have been an issue. Well after knowing what to look for based on the more obvious pea damage (bigger stems made it easier to see) I now know why I'm missing a bunch of cucamelon fruit, plus found a little one half eaten.

I'm a bit worried as to what is next. My tomatoes don't have fruit yet, but they do have flowers (we've had some days where it's been quite chilly the last few weeks, things are behind). What about my cucumbers if those ever get the heat to take off and produce fruit before it gets cold? Beans?
Am I supposed to cover everything with netting?

I don't understand these birds. Previous years they used to love running through my potatoes, I haven't seen much of that this year. They never caused any damage though, they were just playing/eating insects. Today I noticed one perched in my garlic, never seen that before and they were running all over the place, a change in their behaviour after some things were covered.

I'm not really growing anything stand-out new to me. Some of the varieties are new. Some herbs I don't think I've grown before. I have a broccoli-kale hybrid that's new to me, but it's not standing out from the aspabroc/broccolini that I've done for a few years.

The beet leaves they started to devour - I grew the same type last year. The peas are all from last year or before. Had a large amount of cucumelons off of 2 plants last year. I was also gone for 2 decent stretches and while their was help people weren't in and out as much as I will be in a day.

We have a birdfeeder, same place as last year. We're thinking of moving it further away from the garden, but we also don't want bird droppings all over the deck so not sure where to stick it.

I picked up a plastic owl and some pinwheels - not outside yet. I never minded birds in the garden before and I don't really want to scare them all off. Covering everything will be too much of a hassle though, so it may come down to deterring them from the yard. And to think I was looking at birdbaths! :p

Any ideas as to why they are suddenly eating so much of my fruit & veggies? I have heard of other people having these problems and used to get concerned about them running around in my garden before, but after years of no problems with the little ones I stopped watching careful.

Any ideas of the best way to handle it and ideally enjoy my harvest AND watching the birds hop around?
 

Lastpointe

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I have, so far, only had problems with birds getting berries and I cover them in netting.

What I have read though is that birds can become accustomed to a garden and include it in their foraging routes. Sounds like the foragers last year have spread the word to their friends.


I read that farmers and big growers do a lot to chase away birds. Shiny metal plates hanging, scarecrows, netting, and big balloons that have big eyes on them. But that scare tactics need to be moved around to be effective

It’s too bad they eat your crop, as they are helpful eating the bugs, but I would put up lots of scary things and try to break them of the habit of eating in your yard
 

Carolla

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That so interesting - but sorry you are losing your crops! I'm not much of a food grower so don't have experienced wisdom to offer. We do put 3 birdfeeders up in the fall, fairly close to the house so we can watch the birds over the winter months. But we take them down usually in early June, because of the poop on the deck issue. It takes a while for the yard to become less of a haven. We do have lots of robins hopping about - so I guess that's a good sign for there being lots of worms in my perennial gardens & lawn.

I will have also heard that squirrels can be a problem - and we LOTS of those evil little creatures. So when I planted lettuce and radish seeds in my planter boxes this year, my mate fabricated covers for them from hardware cloth - and we've had a great crop so far :) I just took the cover off the radishes the other day - wow the leaves on those are prickly, so perhaps that is a good defense. I have a pretty big lettuce crop at the school garden I tend, and so far (touch wood!) it is pest free.
 

ChemGal

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We have no squirrels at least, so no worries about those. Chemguy has been filling the feeder way more than he has in the past - I leave that job to him. He's refilling it almost every day. I just asked him if that was a change over last year, so that seems to be the biggie. I would have hoped with all the tasty seeds they would stay out of the food I want! So we'll start by backing off on that, although it may be difficult to notice if that helps as everything they were eating is covered.

I didn't lose too much, I did mostly shelling peas this year as Chemguy won't eat pods and they seemed to taste them out but focused on the snap peas. The cucumelons I'm a bit sad about, but hopefully when we get some warm weather they will rebound, those plants weren't damaged much, it's mostly just the fruit being picked off. Beets 2 corners are gone along with some others in the row, I think at least half that row can grow back enough to recover.

I know some people have issues where the birds eat the seeds they sow, so at least that wasn't an issue for me, something to watch for next year.
 

Carolla

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We're building a planter this summer from some old wood, so we can put it on the driveway against a sunny wall - to grow some PEAS!! Hoping to incorporate a trellis into it - maybe it will need netting too from what you say! Want to grow a nice crop of sugar snap peas .... so fantastic when nice and fresh!!
 

KayTheCurler

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Today we took the netting off the haskaps. Picked enough for ourselves for the winter, and adult kids picked what they wanted. The yard is now alive with feasting birds!
 

GO3838

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I have lots of birds, too.
But they only seem to eat my strawberries, which I cover with netting.

But I've discovered the best way to keep birds out of my garden is to court the neighbourhood cats.

I have multiple bird feeders, and cats come regularly to watch the birds at the feeders. They'll hide in my raspberries,
or stretch out in the pumpkin patch. And the birds will squawk angrily at the cat snoozing in my pumpkin patch, but the birds won't dare come down to the garden to forage. I'll pet the cats and talk to them, so they come back on a regular basis. I also put out a water dish, and if we're BBQ'ing I'll give a cat a tiny piece of chicken or steak. (But I won't feed them in the sense I'll put out a dish, because I shouldn't feed someone else's cat.)

But there are downsides: there are cat fights in my yard from time to time, and there's a tom cat who "marks" our property as his.
(However, a few tom cat markings will keep the birds away!)
 

ChemGal

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I have lots of birds, too.
But they only seem to eat my strawberries, which I cover with netting.

But I've discovered the best way to keep birds out of my garden is to court the neighbourhood cats.

I have multiple bird feeders, and cats come regularly to watch the birds at the feeders. They'll hide in my raspberries,
or stretch out in the pumpkin patch. And the birds will squawk angrily at the cat snoozing in my pumpkin patch, but the birds won't dare come down to the garden to forage. I'll pet the cats and talk to them, so they come back on a regular basis. I also put out a water dish, and if we're BBQ'ing I'll give a cat a tiny piece of chicken or steak. (But I won't feed them in the sense I'll put out a dish, because I shouldn't feed someone else's cat.)

But there are downsides: there are cat fights in my yard from time to time, and there's a tom cat who "marks" our property as his.
(However, a few tom cat markings will keep the birds away!)
With my severe allergies, I really don't want cats in my yard. There is one cat that I usually don't mind. Tends to not get into things, seems to be interested in mice (ie. one winter with the shed and I'm assuming that's what it was with the garden in the winter too). Was a little too friendly when we had a bunch of stuff out in the yard, he likes people and wanted to check everything out. My husband convinced him to leave though. Besides that one cat I don't want any more hanging around. I haven't seem him lately though (neighbours named him Rusty). He doesn't appear to be a stray, but they did what they could to figure who he belonged to and didn't get any answers.
 

GO3838

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OK, so no cat courtship......

Then I'd suggest netting and "scary stuff," like plastic owl and aluminum pie plates, but they do need to be moved around to be effective, and birds are a lot smarter than people think, and some are to smart to be fooled by pie pans and plastic owls...

Good luck, Chemgal!
 

Lastpointe

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Its getting a bit late in the summer to start snow/snap peas. They like cold weather to start. They will grow up anything though. You can do a trellis, but also just out nails into the wall and string fishing line. Or giv them a tomatoe cage to climb
 

Carolla

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Its getting a bit late in the summer to start snow/snap peas. They like cold weather to start. They will grow up anything though. You can do a trellis, but also just out nails into the wall and string fishing line. Or giv them a tomatoe cage to climb
Oh yes - definitely too late to start peas for this year. Would build it now, in anticipation of next spring! might consider putting a few big tomato plants in it this year. I got a 'sweet heat' pepper plant on sale & have it in this sunny spot too in its big pot - it already had some peppers on it when I got it ... so hoping this will bring us some good eating this summer :)
 

ChemGal

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OK, so no cat courtship......

Then I'd suggest netting and "scary stuff," like plastic owl and aluminum pie plates, but they do need to be moved around to be effective, and birds are a lot smarter than people think, and some are to smart to be fooled by pie pans and plastic owls...

Good luck, Chemgal!
I haven't put out any of the pinwheels/owl yet. The netting seems to be doing it's job. I might wait until my tomatoes start coming up to do more. That way it will be new deterrents before there's stuff they can get at, instead of now where everything is already protected that they can eat.

I did notice a crow hanging around a bit yesterday, curious if that was what was destroying my beets. I can't keep an eye on my beets from the window, the potatoes, garlic and broccoli in pots (would move those but I don't think it would give visibility) block my view. I'm pretty sure the peas and cucamelons were the little birds though, I do see them on all the cages (cukes, tomates and cucamelons use them) plus the metal frame for the peas. I think a crow would have done way more damage getting into the cucamelons, not cleanly pick them off through the cage.

Just now the little birds were all on the netting around the haskaps. Not sure if the are eating any. We already did one harvest though, so I don't mind if the access some of the outer berries. I have noticed from the robins before it makes for messy bird poop :sick:
 

Carolla

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I had to go look up Haskaps - I'd never heard of them. They look delicious!! What do you like to do with them?
 

ChemGal

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I had to go look up Haskaps - I'd never heard of them. They look delicious!! What do you like to do with them?
We just eat them. They are fairly tart. I find though as long as they are ripe, they are sweet enough. The turn purple on the outside first, but the inside will still be green - not ripe until the inside is purple too.
My sister has some plants too, nephews especially the youngest will take any with the slightest bit of purple, so still a bit green on the out. Not sure how they manage to eat them like that! I got handed one totally purple on the outside, totally green on the in and didn't enjoy it. The next was half green on the outside and I really had to pass. haha needless to say they will not have any ripe ones, the kids are getting to them even before the birds will touch them.

My parents don't like them. My Dad did eat a few unripe ones because he rarely says no to the grandkids. We tried the ones we harvested appropriate (shake the bushes, when ripe they fall off easily) and confirmed they are better but still too tart for his taste.

The do make great jam or whatever you want to do with them as the skin is thin and the seeds are not noticeable. Texture wise, going from a haskap to a blueberry is similar to going from a blueberry to a saskatoon.

Maybe next year we'll do a bit of processing. This is the first year we're really getting a 'full' harvest. We had a decent amount last year but they were still in that getting established phase.
 

Carolla

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I went to the school garden this afternoon - to stake up the tomatoes :) My mate cut some cedar stakes for me - hope they will be tall enough as the season goes on. Took longer than I imagined to get all 8 plants staked & tied, the bed weeded & watered a bit. I have no idea what type of tomatoes these will be - the teacher picked up a bunch of very spindly left-over seedlings from a seedling swap at the local library & planted them - so we shall see!!

The delecata squash plants are really taking off this week - a couple of blooms even! And I've been nuturing the sad looking bean plants that the kindergarden kids germinated - maybe half a dozen will make it. I guess I'll have to think about making some supports for the beans too - they look like pole beans, rather than bush type.

A young man walking his dog through the school yard stopped to chat - and so I offered him fresh lettuce for his supper before he went on his way. Such a big smile :) Made the day for both of us I think.

I have to say, I'm liking this opportunity to do a bit of veggie gardening.
 

GO3838

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How wonderful of you, Carolla, to support your school this way.

Schools depend on volunteers like you to tend plants during the summer.
 

GO3838

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The school I work at has a large greenhouse, and students plant seeds, and later set out the plants in our extensive garden.

Volunteers tend the plants in the summer, and them the classes in the fall make stuff with the harvest. (And it amazes me that no one ever steals or vandalizes the pumpkins.) The cooking classes cook and freeze pumpkin pulp, and then they make pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake all schoolyear long. They also make salsa and zucchini relish.
 
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