I felt a bit like Mr. McGregor fighting off Peter Rabbit this last week.
I had re-planted all my tomatoes after that late frost killed the first batch. Luckily I had saved half my starts inside – just in case – since I was planting so early. I had my beautiful babies all tucked in under my new trellis.
The next morning I came out to find three of them eaten to the ground. Then the following morning, 15 of my 18 plants were gnashed off, right down to the ground!
My first thought was deer but I didn’t see any hoof prints. I have, however, seen rabbits of all sizes back by my berry garden.
Disheartened, I pouted for a day but then I got to work. It isn’t summer for me without fresh heirloom tomatoes. I make so many things for us to eat year round from the tomatoes I grow. So I had to find a way to protect them.
After some research and discussion with my husband, I decided my main opponents were deer and rabbits. I’d put in at least a 5-foot welded wire fence with a skirt of something small to keep the little ones from slipping through.
I got out what we already had leftover from other fencing projects and got to work. First step was determining corners and running a line between them. Josh said to keep the fence at least four foot from any plants I didn’t want deer to reach in and eat so I made a good size rectangle around my beds and the two fruit trees next to them.
I marked every five feet for a post. After calculating how many more posts I needed and running up to tractor supply, I got to work pounding in t-posts. For the corners and around the gate, I used chain link terminal posts (TS doesn’t sell these – go to Lowe’s). These, Josh said, will help the fence from wanting to lean in. They were a bear to drive in, but I can feel my arms getting stronger from the effort!
With the posts in, it was time to put up the welded wire. Unfortunately my husband wasn’t available to help me and this is no easy task alone. I managed to unroll a long stretch and stand it up. Rummaging through the scrap pile, I found a piece of metal that I could weave through the openings in the welded wire. Then I hooked a ratchet strap around a t-post and to the stretcher bar. Using the ratchet, I managed to pull the fencing tight every few t-posts and slowly worked my way around.
Josh and Oliver did come out to help me get the gate up and aligned properly. Luckily we had saved a random gate someone was throwing away so we had that ready to go. It pays to hoard random metal parts!
Finally, I cut up some 1-inch square plastic fencing we had stowed away and zip tied it to the lower two feet of the fence all the way around. I folded it down a couple inches at the bottom to help keep little creatures from coming through or under the fence. I even wrapped it around the gate corner to cover the gaps around where it swings open.
I’m so happy with how it came out.
The next morning I got up bright and early and planted my third round of tomatoes. Third time had better be the charm! This time they mostly came from Lowe’s and a few plants Rita brought me from Natorp’s. I did manage to find some of my favorite, Cherokee Purple.
While I was out watering my tomatoes I did see a little rabbit running along the back of the fence trying to figure out how to get in. Toby also barked and chased him off for good measure though the fence seemed to be doing the trick.
Josh also replaced the ratchet straps on the ends of my tomato trellis with wire so the straps won’t get ruined out in the elements.
The garden is thriving so far. I’ve been harvesting a handful of peas every day or so.
Lettuces and kales are growing fast. Onions are up. Peppers are growing bigger. Turnips will be ready to start pulling soon. Cucumbers are beginning to grow. Potatoes gain another few inches every day, it seems.
How is your garden doing so far this year? What critters are you fighting against?