Question What's eating my produce/plants?

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Ash, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    I can't seem to win. I grow some great stuff in the soil I'm on, but everything gets eaten before I can get to it. The capsicums, eaten until there's just the seeds left.
    The pumpkins, eaten, almost whole.
    Even the leaves on my stone fruit trees are getting chomped.
    I cannot tell what would have the appetite for these things.
    We do live near a small reserve and a golf course where I see some hares hopping through.
    What to do? I don't have the resources for a greenhouse, is there anything else I can do to protect the remaining pumpkins I've got growing?

    IMG_8321.JPG IMG_8322.JPG

    And no amount of pesticide has worked for this poor tree. What do I do?
    IMG_8324.JPG
     
  2. AndrewB

    AndrewB Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Rats maybe? the bite marks on that pumpkin look like a rodent. You could makes some little metal cages out of small steel mesh for the pumpkins you have left. Or flip over a hanging basket frame if you find one with small enough holes to keep critters out.

    Not sure on the leaves though, it may be unrelated. Head outside after dark & see if there are any bugs on the tree having a munch. Using pesticide could make it worse, as it kills both good & bad bugs, meaning there are no predators around.

    Once the pesticide wears off, a couple of caterpillars can do a lot of damage in one night.
     
  3. DarrenP

    DarrenP Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Rats, rabbits, or possums?
     
  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Oh dear Ash, the critters are having a field day/night at your place!

    From the size of the bites & teeth marks I would say the pumpkin is being eaten by either a hare or possum, both of which love pretty much all fruit that we might like to grow for them.
    No animal (other than caterpillars) will eat the seeds of the capsicum because they are hot which is an indicator to a natural repellent you might like to try but only works when no rain, fog or overhead watering is occurring.

    Regarding the tree. Is it an apple? Your post says it or another in that region is stone fruit. Seems like it/they might not be getting enough light there next to the fence so only the top leaves survive. It/they seem leggy. However again possums love flowers, leaves & young fruit of most fruit trees & passionfruit. They will also treat the trees & vines as a highway.

    However, I also see your place is enclosed by tall fences so it is probably possums because hares might have trouble getting under/past the fences unless they are coming up the side of your house from the street. Possums will go along the top of the fence. It is basically impossible to keep possums out short of making wire enclosures as a barrier against them.

    This is how they thank us for growing a full larder for them!

    Again chilli spray can help but needs to be reapplied after rain or even heavy overnight & morning fogs.

    AndrewB has the right idea regarding a barrier for ripening fruit. Old wire netting can be repurposed to make small individual cages for fruit on the ground or even hanging, so long as the fruit stem can tolerate the extra weight.
    If you were closer to me I could drop off about 30m of old wire netting & chicken wire laced with hi-tensile plain wire (good for making little hoops) today or next week as I am pulling down old fences & will be travelling through northern Bris next week.

    But if you go to your nearest tip shop you should surely be able to get old fence wire for free. It needs to be wire netting to be successful.
     
  5. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Ouch nasty, so disheartened when animals eat your produce. :( they get the rewards of your hard work.
     
  6. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    It'll be either possums or hares, as they are both seen to be around, leaving their droppings on the grass a lot, digging up small holes in the grassed areas as well. Fencing sounds great, but will make the backyard a bit of an eye sore for the missus. I'll have to think about that one. No amount of repellant has worked so far, including the ultrasonic ones. I would love to use individual fruit cages and that will need time to implement, one thing I am quite poor with. It all depends how keen I am to get these fruit to the dinner plate.

    As for the tree, it's a stone fruit, a Plum Supreme, the only one of three in that line that is having its leaves chewed to bits. The other two plums have been left alone and have healthy leaves. They all get about 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. It looks like the work of another animal, and I'm suspicious of possums. It's been impossible getting around the flaming rodent.
     
  7. DarrenP

    DarrenP Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Those ultrasonic pest controllers are a waste of money unfortunately. I even saw one for snakes in our local discount store, made me laugh.
    Speaking of which, I have read that snake skins can deter animals such as hares and possums. If you can get your hands on some, give it a go.
     
  8. Tynan

    Tynan Member Premium Member

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    Well I won't be setting up the two snake repellents the owners left us, seems like a waste of several large batteries. maybe Eveready and Duracell manufacture the pest controllers.... Bloody buggers.
     
  9. DarrenP

    DarrenP Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Apart from chickens and their eggs, non-venomous snakes don't pose a threat, they will actually help with rats, hares/rabbits, and possums. Nature's pest control. You just need to snake proof the chicken run/coop.
     
  10. Tynan

    Tynan Member Premium Member

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    It is quite a large coup and with very tightly woven mesh, it's the long grass and the enclosed stable attached to it that worries me. Going to be a few weeks of hard work to get the place ship shape; I'll post some progression photos along the way.

    Thanks again Darren, much appreciated pal.
     
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  11. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Just be mindful that chooks like seclusion & that long grass & the pumpkin vine overhead is just what they need to feel safe.
    Also it will protect them from the cold winds in winter & create a microclimate inside their coup that is much warmer than the outside air.
    There are pro's & con's for everything.

    When weighing up things to make a decision I often decide to put a little more onus on me to be more mindful & in the moment as I walk to the chook pen or into the garden so the animals & plants have what they need rather than me having it all & them none or very little.

    Today for example, the electrician came to give a quote to put power onto my new shed. I was so busy talking to him on the walk back to the house, I missed seeing an olive tree snake laying on the track in a spot of early morning sun. Had I been more mindful of where I was walking, I would have seen the snake & not frightened the crap out of it, me & the tradie!

    However I know if a carpet snake gets into your chooks, they & their eggs are toast! But you do have that fine mesh. Maybe it would be better to fill in the vacant spaces with more fine mesh to secure the coup.

    Of course I am tainted in my thinking right now & rather tunnel visioned about clearing away growth due to recently getting new neighbours. They have a 'clear it at all costs' mentality in the vain hope of worshiping the lawn gods.

    They have bulldozed the whole riparian zone across the back of their 6ac block with all the hundreds of mature native trees that were planted 20yrs ago that protected the creek banks from erosion. The new owner got the excavator driver to flatten the creek banks where the pardalotes made nests in the banks so he can mow & have lawn. The wildlife has all moved onto my place being the only property with any wild zones in this whole area now, the birds (including eastern & western butcher birds being one such example that don't co-exist) are fighting like crazy to establish new territory. It has all been very sad. Also hard to watch are these new neighbours clearing mature gardens around their house plus the understory plants under the tall gum trees between their house & mine that provided fantastic privacy to both of us.

    Understory plants are very important when it come to predatory insects for your garden.

    But he must mow!
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
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  12. Tynan

    Tynan Member Premium Member

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    It all seems rather secure and I must admit, I was quite surprised not to see any snakes. I should probably stop wearing shorts and flip flops when I go see the chooks though, might be asking for trouble.

    Gross. I'm looking to plant a bunch of trees in the future so that I may reduce my 4 hour mowing times... At least he hasn't knocked up some apartment blocks I suppose. Lawns are still better than a concrete jungle in my books.

    This is true and something I've always wondered, what happens when we go too far? I wonder when we cross the point of no return and lose far too many valuable species that were keeping our fauna and flora working harmoniously. I'm going to be looking into Steve's blog about bees soon enough. I was only intending to get some honeybees at first, but having a dozen or so native hives around the perimeter would be nice.
     
  13. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    I've just gone and pitched up a few star pickets and netted the area in the hope that the buggers don't get under/around/through it for the rest of the pumpkins growing in there. It'll stop bees unfortunately from pollinating the remaining flowers but I don't have a strong mesh to pitch up to protect the area. I have two 3x1.5m areas that could do with such protection. I'm thinking of a more sturdy greenhouse like set up with a door, but one with mesh rather than glass to allow rain into it. No time to do it myself though...
     
  14. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Its amazing how small a hole the bees can squeeze through as long as they can see the flowers, so don't get too despondent yet Ash. You may find them in there in anycase.

    The other way to fertilize vine flowers is just pick a male flower & rub it inside the females. Also if the pollen is really ripe, you can just tap it into the female flowers.
     
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