|Grow your own food successfully with localised knowledge at your finger tips, using our yearly Gardener subscription.|
I wonder if anyone has a suggestion as to how to deal with these. I am 6k from the city and have raised beds in my backyard. I use birdmesh to keep out the turkeys but the rats eat holes in the mesh and dig up new seeds/seedlings. The rats are in great numbers as they clean up after the chooks. The turkeys used to be confined to the chook yard but since I cut back on chook scraps to contral the rats, they now venture into every bit of dirt they can find. I use sticks and stones to mulch and protect new plants but the turkeys are very persistent. I have possums which I can live with as they tend to take only what they need and they're not into seemingly wanton destruction of everything like the turkeys and rats! Maybe we should think twice about the introduction of the 'feral' chook? Help!! Thanks
You have quite a challenge in your garden. Some suggestions and reflections on my own experience:
With your seeds and seedlings, I suggest avoiding raising seeds in your garden as you have a rat issue at the moment and they love eating seeds but are less likely to eat seedlings. So when you plant out in your garden attempt to plant seedlings that are a reasonable size. The flavour of the very young shoots of plants are often very enticing to rodents. A good example are beans, they will snap off the young shoot but will not usually easy the bigger stalk.
The rat problem - rats will often be more likely to come to your garden if there is other food or them close bye, such as food in compost, food burried into your garden or seeds given to chickens where the chook pen is close to your food garden. My suggestions here are (a) to never bury food scraps in your garden unless they are totally composted and as such do not provide food for rats (b) if you put out food scraps into your compost area, make sure its fully enclosed so the rodents can't get at them, (c) Have your chook pen a reasonable distance from your vegie garden.
You could trap the rats and move them on to somewhere, I am not in favour of killing them, but some gardeners do this.
You could encourage a carpet snake or python to live near your chickens. We have a diamond python that lives near our chickens and never touches the chickens (perhaps takes a few eggs but we still have plenty), but keeps the rats at bay as pythons love rats.
- Bird problem - bush turkeys are a big problem for many gardeners and they do dig up a lot of gardens. Our own experience with bush turkeys is that they live in our area in quite large numbers but do not affect our food gardens because we have a number of families of very territorial small birds that always attack the tukeys when they come into their space which is the food garden. So we feed the small birds and encourage them to treat the garden as their home (another reason not to make seeds too obvious in your garden). They eat small pests in the garden and create a good energy and I love being around them, at the same time they protect the gaarden. I call them my clean up team.
In your case, since you have bird netting over the garden, you stop any chance of birds handging out in your garden, so the environment becomes unbalanced. An unbalanced environment is like putting up a sign up on your garden to invite pests.
We have no fences around our gardens at all and despite over 30 species of birds living around the 5 acres we live on, plus possums, bandicoots, bush rats and other creatures, we do not have a pest problem.
The other thing to mention is care for your soil. healthy plants emit a scent which we can't smell that repels pests and the plants health comes primarily from healthy soil. So your soil fertility should be your number one strategy in pest reduction. I know this may sound counter intuitive but it works.
Please keeep us posted on how you go.
Thanks Peter. The rats have reduced in number where they are not much of a problem right now - I have limited the chooks scraps. Yes I would encourage snakes but the neighbours are not so tolerant so they get them exported. I think we have a different experience of the turkeys probably due to location. Most properties in my area are so devoid of anything tasty for a turkey that my garden has become very attractive. The nets over individual beds are reasonably successful and yes it prohibits desired birds but its a question of compromise here. Anything outside the nets is basically turkey fodder and they do find it and they do destroy it - everything! I'm almost embarrassed to say I resorted to relocating them just to keep down the numbers - I have moved 8 in the last 2 weeks and there are still more hanging around. Its futile of course but it gives my garden some breathing space - not very Permaculture, I know! Cheers!