We have so much opposition in the patch that sometimes we need to make big moves, and when it comes to the big beasts of the pest world possums and birds can devastate your patch overnight. Possums are about as tricky as they get. Not only do their opposable thumbs make them very capable thieves, but they are also easily adaptable to deterrents set in their path. Take a look down the pest control aisle in the hardware store and you will find a suite of products ranging from chilli sprays to high-frequency audio devices- all claiming to be the definitive solution. Unfortunately, possums seem to have now found a fondness for chilli/garlic sprays and these audio devices are much more likely to annoy your poodle than save your lettuce.
When it comes to beating the birds and possums your choices are simple. Be the even earlier bird to get “the worms” of your veggie patch harvest, or to cover your crop with netting. Before you cast that net over the top, did you know netting regulations have changed in Victoria? Make sure you use netting that has a mesh size of 5mm x 5mm or less at full stretch to reduce the risk to wildlife becoming entangled. People are sometimes reluctant to erect netting because of the way it looks. Within seconds poor erected netting can destroy the look of your garden and every time you look at it you cringe. Yep, vanity in the garden is not lost! Rather than just throwing a net over the patch and getting yourself in a tangle, there is a straightforward method that makes it easy to install, looks good and will make you feel handy in the process.
1. The handy hardware: drill, screws, 25mm brackets, 20mm electrical conduit (2 x 4m) and a 5 x 5m bird net.
2. Start by screwing in the brackets to the outer timber. The length of your screws will depend on your timber - you don’t want sharp ends to pop through. If the screws are a little bit too long, screw them in at an angle.
3. Simply affix four brackets to opposite sides of the crate. That means eight altogether - two on the top, two on the bottom of each side.
4. To create a sturdy and lightweight game we use two lengths of 4m electrical conduit and slot them through the brackets on one side first.
5. Bend the poles down to the opposing corner on the opposite side, slotting them into the brackets there. While theres plenty of give in the conduit to bend it, you are storing up some decent kinetic energy, so don’t let them slip as you’re doing this.
6. Now throw your netting over the top. If you are trying to keep out cabbage moths consider using insect netting.
7. Secure the netting a panel down from the top of your raised bed. Partially insert four screws on each side of the bed (16 in total) to attach the netting. The netting should be taut. Possums like to sit on loose netting and eat the produce through it.
8. Secure the loose ends with a cable tie. Remember you want it to be taught so the fruit isn't accessible to hungry mouths waiting nearby.
9.Sit back, admire your work and think about all the nibble-free produce you have now secured inside your netting fortress.