Garden Pest Control

Garden pest control was the final step of our new garden. We use garden fence and mesh tents to protect our new plants from predation and a cold frame to keep them warm.

Once garden preparation was complete and our raised beds and pathways were laid out, we put up our fence. In our area, we have a rabbit population that even our coyotes can’t control. We have big blacktail jackrabbits and western cottontails everywhere. These rabbits LOVE a garden and can destroy one overnight.

On top of these furry critters, we also have the occasional javelina, deer, and seasonal grasshoppers looking for an easy lunch.

To support our fence, we use heavy steel T- stakes. If you purchase them, you’ll find that quality and strength will vary. For a small backyard garden, lightweight post will do nicely. For longer runs of fencing, a more substantial T-post will work better. We wanted enough strength to be able to tighten the chicken wire fence and not have to do special bracing on the corners.

For the fencing, we used 4’ galvanized poultry net aka chicken wire. While special fasteners are available for attaching the fencing, we used soft “stove pipe” or utility wire to fasten the fence to the posts.

Note: Bury about 4” to 6” of the fence under the surface to prevent burrowing animals from accessing the garden by going under. This has proven satisfactory for all but pocket gophers. We used the rocks we screened out of the garden soil, banked against the outside base of the fence, to further discourage diggers.

Protection from birds

While our perimeter fence provides protection from rabbits, our birds, especially quail, love to munch on our garden plants.

So, we planned our beds for a screened pest control box that covered the bed. We built box frames approximately 5’x 3’x 2’.

The frame was made from ripped 2”x4” dimension lumber and covered with poultry netting / chicken wire. Each box will require about 2 ½ - 2’x4’x8’ boards ripped in two parts. This provides portable and effective protection from birds. When the plants became large enough to tolerate being munched by the birds, the boxes are removed.

Small Plant Pest Control…

For early protection of our young plants, we have built long triangular tents for the rows constructed from 1/4 inch hardware cloth.

As our tender young plants grow too large for these, we place the larger rectangular frames over them.

For pest control in your area, check your copy of The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch for crop specific problems and solutions. Your local county extension agent or a local Master Gardener will generally prove to be a valuable and regionally savvy source of information. This link will take you to the American Horticultural Society’s site with a list of Master Gardeners by state.

Protection from the cold

Although we live in the Arizona desert, we still have to protect our plants from the cold. In the last couple years, we have had many nights with low temperatures well below freezing.

For our winter greens – kale, chard, lettuce, spinach, escarole – we have constructed a removable portable hoop house with 6 mil plastic. This is a bed-sized mini-green house that we use in extreme cold – extreme for Arizona, that is. By draping bird netting over the hoops, we have yet another level of garden pest control.

For mild frost protection, row cover spread over the bed and weighted on the edges works great.

To stretch our growing season, a cold frame a real asset. This is a durable and solid mini-greenhouse that we use to get an early start on tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, eggplant as well as some kitchen herbs and flowers.

By protecting your garden from damage, whether from birds, rodents, bugs, or frost, you can enjoy wholesome and healthy food from a healthy and happy garden. So, we urge you to practice good garden pest control and we wish you...

Happy Gardening!

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