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Newbie from Canada - Help! A big challenge problem. — The Grow Network Community

Newbie from Canada - Help! A big challenge problem.

FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

Hello fellow The Grow Network members,

I`m a newbie from Canada, and this is my first post. I read posts by other members on TGN and I like it here already.

First of all, I’m a hobbyist gardener for several years and with plenty of challenges. However, I have one big one – predators both small (insects) and big (rodents to foxes).

We have tried so many things to help control them, but nothing works.

I’m pretty sure something is off balance.  

I used to see and solve problems in an isolated way. However in the last half year I come to really understand that this does not work, and a healthy garden comprises a multitude of related sub-ecosystems all interconnected in balance. Affecting one subsystem can wreak havoc on the entire garden.

I’m pretty sure some subsystem somewhere is off balance.  

For the past 2 years, we have had literally thousands of Japanese Beetles raiding our garden. Leaves disappear in a matter of hours. Some birds and/or rodents are eating our tomatoes both red and green leaving holes in them, but never finishing them. Some animals bite the stems of beans leaving the whole tops uneaten, as if the guilty culprit is just have fun vandalizing. And the list goes on.

I’m pretty sure some subsystem somewhere is off balance.

But I don’t know what it is, nor would I know where to begin.

I shall appreciate any feedback from this community.

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Comments

  • bejer19bejer19 IllinoisPosts: 53 ✭✭✭

    I don't have much to offer you but commiseration. We haven't had a big japanese beetle problem at my house but I've honestly almost stopped planting green beans because so many of them get bitten up by what I'm almost positive is rats. I have a small urban plot and there is only so much I have control over. And the rats that nest in the alley and under houses in the neighborhood is definitely not one of them :-(

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 120 ✭✭✭

    We have had the same problem with our tomatoes this year - every morning I have one more lying on the ground with a few bites out of it and the rest unfinished. We believe it is a raccoon doing this - started picking any tomatoes that were approaching ripe or close to the ground and letting them finish ripening indoors. Seems to have helped...

  • pamelamackenziepamelamackenzie Posts: 115 ✭✭✭

    I also pick tomatoes before ripe. Also I mainly grow grape tomatoes so birds will take whole thing and then I don't have to see them all with one bite taken.

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

    That is very interesting, and here I thought that I was the only one facing these things. Thank you all for replying, I really appreciate it.

    I really wonder WHAT critters are actually destroying the plants and fruit. The only way to find out is to install some sort of infrared camera with a motion detector to record when any critter comes around.

    bejer19, have you tried setting mousetraps around the green beans?

    chimboodle04, the raccoons near our area come really early in the morning to gobble our gooseberries, and they just tear them off without eating them sometimes. Have you tried to observe what happens in your garden early in the morning?

    Bird? I had no idea birds ate tomatoes. Perhaps that could explain the nature of the bite in our tomatoes. Some of them look like holes. We notice some of the green ones have them too. Do you have any idea what type of birds are they?

  • rainbowrainbow ✭✭✭ Posts: 931 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 16

    Hi @Foodgardenguy

    re your oft-repeated Perceptions: " I’m pretty sure something is off balance. " Hits the nail on the head.

    This entire beautiful planet aptly called EARTH & (larger-than microscopic critters - including us humans too) have become increasingly Off-balance over the past 100 years or so. Mankind intentionally has polluted the air we all breath to near unsustainable degree. Mankind intentionally has polluted the oceans & groundwater we all also depend on for mere existence. Humanity intentionally has decided it is OK to change a few letters in order that GENOCIDE (of millions............... of Un+Newborn babies, etc. etc) can be slaughtered in cold blood. And further that those so Responsible, will not be ever held Accountable, as they assume for now, simply be-cause "We can do Anything... we want, iow Mass-murder is legal..." - Mankind intentionally has so horribly polluted the Food-supply (w/ GMO-monstrosities, & other poisonous crap) that it is no small miracle the cancer-rate is not more like 90%. ---- Life is just hurting more & more in so many contexts. - And yet, the answers are really quite simple.

    After all is said & done, may I reach out to you with I am sorry. I am sorry you too art hurting. And most of all, I wish you & your Loved ones @Foodgardenguy healthier Garden outcomes... towards this end, I will pray for you, okay ?

    And what of the animals, some of which you mentioned. - There are any number of reasons why they, too, are at times seemingly out-of-control. And In case you say: "Well, what do I do about it?" - Have you tried RAISING your garden spaces, to Discourage ground-dwellers, maybe also using strong Non-toxic netting ? = I mention this choice because in the "Fruit Tree society" of which I am a member, some of us are in various Study-groups where we Experiment... with such means to Protect our decades-living Fruiting plants...

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭
    edited August 17

    Dear @rainbow,

    Thank you for your heartfelt reply. You touched me, honestly.

    It's really all about BIG corporate control and profits, and I could say a lot more here, but I believe you know all about it already.

    I used to spend a lot of time complaining about it. But I realized many years later that the only way to combat this thing is to "let your light so shine..." rather than to fight it.

    So similarly, when applied to regenerative gardening or permaculture concepts, I've been thinking about how to design and implement a subsystem that feeds those critters instead of trying to fight them, but there are just so many predators that it is overwhelming, and I don't know where to begin.

    I'm just taking notes now, and asking around if anyone might have similar experiences or see something I don't see.

    Thank you for all your suggestions. We have raised all our garden beds already because we needed more drainage OR are you talking about the raised beds that are guarded with boards?

    I have never tried the netting before and did have a question about toxicity. What would you consider non-toxic netting, the material type that is?

  • spowell07spowell07 Posts: 19 ✭✭✭

    i would bet money the problem with yours and everyone else’s tomatoes is crows aka big black birds 🦅 they do this consistently all throughout the season. I have found out that in my area of the states a lot of gardeners will shoot a crow and place it high on a stake in the center of the gardens and that seems to keep the others away. Sorry if this sound cruel I don’t mean for it too, but if it comes between my children starving or doing this to a crow then so be it. My children will not go hungry. The beans could very well be turtles 🐢. They love mine. I use diatomaceous earth and dust my plants when necessary. Works for beetles turtles bunnies slugs/snails all kinds of pests. Hope you get tour garden(s) straightened out simply.

  • rainbowrainbow ✭✭✭ Posts: 931 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Foodgardenguy -

    True, having spent 40yrs in the medical-industrial complex in nigh every 'specialty', plus other destructive rabbit-holes, I've witnessed horrors that way too many in the majority Assume "could not possibly be true". - If only they knew.

    Can you post a tiny photo of your current Raised-beds ?

    re Non-toxic netting: at our next monthly meeting, I will ask the couple leading this research what exactly it is called.

  • sallyhowardsallyhoward Posts: 21 ✭✭✭

    I have crows helping themselves to my garden too. Lately I am trying fine netting over kale and greens. So far, so good.

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

    We used to see lots of crows and blackbirds around. However, we hardly see them anymore.

    Also in years past, we don't remember holes in our tomatoes.

    And what I would like to understand is IF crows and black birds are eating these things what is (are) the reason(s). Is it because they are not finding much food to eat? In other words has the foods they normally eat been destroyed by recent farming practices like GMOs, glyphosate...etc and technology such as wireless 3G, 4G and now 5G?

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 117 ✭✭✭

    Last year we had the same problem with bites being taken out of our tomatoes. The bites were large enough that we thought it might be our neighbor's dog. But after thinking about it more, I believe it was probably opossums.

    One suggestion for critters that come out at night; you could try placing motion sensors around that will turn on a bright light or trigger a loud sound recording. A friend of mine said it worked for him.

    We were overrun by japanese beetles last year too. So we bought some nematodes that poison the larvae and sprayed them all through the garden. This year I only spotted around 15-25 of them, mostly in the broccoli plants. While planting, I also dug up a few of the larvae that I could tell had been affected by the nematodes and were dead. Now I just need to get rid of the squash bugs and grasshoppers!

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

    @Leslie Carl Thanks for this report.

    I tried nematodes one year as well, but without success. I have one question...did you use chlorinated town or city water to apply the nematodes? Or did you use spring or well water? How did you apply it?

  • 2majomix2majomix Ms. Pointe-Claire, QuebecPosts: 23 ✭✭✭

    All my garden is perfectly safe this year, the squirrels were taken away by the city, there r not many now & we have made a little cabin for the birds and bees etc to rest in, a place to relax, this might help, and of course the soil itself was perhaps richer this year...in Quebec.

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

    @2majomix I think you are on to something. The thought of taking care of the predators so that they are well fed and content rather than fighting them has crossed my mind more than once.

  • rainbowrainbow ✭✭✭ Posts: 931 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 18

    @Foodgardenguy re "Well-fed & content predators": you mean like Eagles & other birds of prey, & snakes & 4-legged critters like bears, etc --- How would you do that ?

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭
    edited August 19

    Hi @rainbow I really would not know how to handle those animals. Fortunately we don't have eagles, snakes and big animals like bears here. However, here in Ontario, Canada, the rodents and ordinary birds that come into our gardens really cause havoc sometimes.

    Someone locally here said they put a few bird feeders around to keep them out of the garden.

  • LaurieLaurie Posts: 513 ✭✭✭

    @Foodgardenguy I was going to ask your location. Now I read that it is Ontario. I am from Manitoba. Are you in the country, urban or semi-rural/urban?

    If in the country, I would recommend a Norwegian elkhound (husky looking Spitz type of dog) for raccoons & most large predators. We have been impressed with ours...but they have to be purebred or some important behavioral traits & instincts will certainly be lost or incomplete. You HAVE to be ready to shoot what they tree or corner. Ours has dealt with mink (killed it herself with no harm done to her), bear, coyote, racoon, skunk, & rats, and foxes (and more, actually). Some will deal with rats, but not as effectively as a jack russell which is bred to hunt & kill rats.

    A Norwegian forest cat will reportly deal with foxes, and if those, I would assume rats & mice too.

    Netting was already mentioned to protect Tomatoes and similar.

    Are cut worms cutting your stems?

    Potato beetles are actually native to Canada. Under grassy areas is where they multiply. You can pick the beetles, squish them, mix them with water and spray it on your plants. I have heard that as much as it is labor intensive, it works very well.

    Geese can be very effective against foxes & dog-like predators (& thieves). I have heard stories from poultry friends of certain roosters & turkeys helping keep their flocks safe from sky predators.

    Now, if you are in an urban/semi-rural area, you may not be able to implement many of these.

    Have you heard of using preying mantis used as insect control? You can buy these and other biological insect predators in Ontario.

    Here are some other suggestions:

    Chickens or guinea fowl:


  • LaurieLaurie Posts: 513 ✭✭✭
    edited August 19

    @Foodgardenguy I was going to ask your location. Now I read that it is Ontario. I am from Manitoba. Are you in the country, urban or semi-rural/urban?

    If in the country, I would recommend a Norwegian elkhound (husky looking Spitz type of dog) for raccoons & most large predators. We have been impressed with ours...but they have to be purebred or some important behavioral traits & instincts will certainly be lost or incomplete. You HAVE to be ready to shoot what they tree or corner. Ours has dealt with mink (killed it herself with no harm done to her), bear, coyote, racoon, skunks, & rats, weasels and foxes (and more, actually). Some will deal with rats, but not as effectively as a jack russell which is bred to hunt & kill rats.

    A Norwegian forest cat will reportly deal with foxes, and if those, I would assume rats & mice too.

    Netting was already mentioned to protect Tomatoes and similar.

    Are cut worms cutting your stems?

    Potato beetles are actually native to Canada. Under grassy areas is where they multiply. You can pick the beetles, squish them, mix them with water and spray it on your plants. I have heard that as much as it is labor intensive, it works very well.

    Geese can be very effective against foxes & dog-like predators (& thieves). I have heard stories from poultry friends of certain roosters & turkeys helping keep their flocks safe from sky predators.

    Now, if you are in an urban/semi-rural area, you may not be able to implement many of these.

    Have you heard of using preying mantis used as insect control? You can buy these and other biological insect predators in Ontario.

    Here are some other suggestions:

    Chickens or guinea fowl:


  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

    Thank you so much @Laurie This was very helpful. We live in a small town on a property less than an acre.

    Unfortunately, I'm someone allergic to dog and cat hair, and if it weren't for that I would have gotten them long ago. We're also limited by the township to have some farm animals like chickens.

    Thank you for suggesting the Preying Mantis and for those helpful articles. I'll definitely being looking to try some of the control methods.

  • LaurieLaurie Posts: 513 ✭✭✭

    @Foodgardenguy I hope you find relief...and you are very welcome.

  • dimck421dimck421 Posts: 85 ✭✭✭

    I had an issue with foxes, raccoons, and opossums, while for many my response to the predators won't be as reasonable, as it was for me. I kept making a very loud presence known. I guess even the wild critters thought they encountered a nut of some sort. The nocturnal operations took several attempts, but nothing wants to deal with a crazed woman! lol Now, as for the smaller pests, frightening the daylights out of them simply never works, so I collect them and feed them to the chickens. I think word spreads even among the bugs that some crazy woman dwells here, as after a few collections, I see fewer and fewer bugs. I hope gain the advantage over your intruders!

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

    Now there's an idea you have, @dimck421.

    I supposed animals have memory of bad experiences. So if they see a "crazy" woman scare them first few times, they will unlikely come again. They will probably tell other members in their pack or clan as well. This is a new idea that I have not thought of, but it makes sense.

  • dimck421dimck421 Posts: 85 ✭✭✭

    Just make sure you are plenty "crazy"! LOL Let me know if you need me to help ya out!

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

    @dimck421 Ha! I definitely will, perhaps you can setup a new company doing this and I'll be your first customer.😀

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 241 ✭✭✭

    @Foodgardenguy With regards to your imbalance, I would assume that there is am imbalance in your soil that is leading to the plant's becoming unhealthy. Insects are known as Nature's clean up/garbage crew...if and when a plant becomes unhealthy it puts out signals (some or most I do believe are chemical) to let insects know so they can consume the dis-eased plant and return it back to the Earth. The soil provides plants with nutrients and if the soil is unhealthy then it can lead to your plants being unhealthy too.

    You can also incorporate companion planting of various plants (native and/or heirloom) that will attract beneficial insects to your yard (parasitic wasps, lady bugs, and more), help to improve the health of your soil (i.e., cover crops), confuse or deter insects by covering up the scent of the plants in your garden, and keep out some of the larger animals (squash family and similar plants can help deter raccoons because of its papery leaves--zucchini for sure, but again a part of companion planting).

    Hopefully this helps.

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭
    edited August 19

    Hi @Obiora E,

    Thank you for your feedback.

    Yes...these are relatively new concepts that I'm now learning in permaculture.

    In regards to companion planting, I only have a chart showing which ones are compatible and incompatible. However it did not seem to do much for me. Do you have a really good source for companion planting?

    I agree with the cover crops. We have been growing radishes and alfalfa, and then cutting them before we cover them with organic matter.

    In regards to deterring insects by covering up the scents of the plants, could you please elaborate on that?

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 117 ✭✭✭

    @Foodgardenguy we have well water on our property. You have to apply the nematodes when the larvae are actively feeding.

  • FoodgardenguyFoodgardenguy CanadaPosts: 99 ✭✭✭

    Hi @Leslie Carl,

    Now that explains why applying the nematodes did not work for us. We were using town water which was chlorinated.😑

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 241 ✭✭✭

    @Foodgardenguy I am attaching a chart that I created that has some really good resources about companion planting (Web sites and books).

    You can plant the onion family (onion, garlic, chives) to help deter Cabbage looper (the White butterfly that loves to eat the brassica family). However to really assist with deterring them the plants have to be cut. You can also use Nasturtium, most plants in the mint family for deterring certain insects. This is a good resource that goes into more detail than what I have provided you:

    You may also want to grow legumes, grains, and flowers for your companion planting. The more cover crops that you use and the more diverse the type the more improvements that you can have with your soil. I have gone to conferences in which the presenter talked about having 15 different cover plants.

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southern UtahPosts: 525 ✭✭✭✭

    @Foodgardenguy Thanks so much for sharing such great resources.

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