Or how to protect the trees and outwit the varmints.
This past weekend Cheryl and I finished enclosing the orchard using a heavy weight polypropylene mesh fence. The fence is a little over 6 feet high and while we were hoping to have it be a little higher, the county and more specifically the availability of materials was against us. Let me explain.
If you have a fence above 7 feet, the county requires a permit which we wanted to avoid and to do so we were looking to be just under 7 feet. In order to do that, we would have to use posts that were 10 feet in height as we were setting these in concrete and we need at least a third of that length in the ground. We also wanted pressure treated posts and we wanted them square. All we found in the 10 foot post variety were round and untreated. Additionally, we were using 12” Quikrite concrete column forms that only come in 48” lengths and we would need more than half that for the 10' length and that would significantly increase our costs in forms and concrete. So we decided to use 8 foot pressure treated 4x4 square posts and have the concrete come up a little above grade in order for us to get as much height as possible. So long story, we are a little above 6 feet.
The question is will it keep the deer out. We think (hope) so.
Rabbits can chew through heavy weight polypropylene fencing. But... there are steps that can be taken to prevent them from doing so. (1) Provide plenty of food well outside the enclosed perimeter and away from the fence – these can be weeds and we have lots of those. (2) Keep the orchard area and fence perimeter well weeded as Rabbits like cover and do not like to be exposed. (3) Anchor the bottom of the fence to keep them from getting under. So, in addition to the fencing we have laid a 1 foot gravel perimeter on top of the fence bottom to anchor the fence and keep the weeds down.
Will this keep the rabbits out? We really hope so.
So what are we protecting?
We currently have 13 trees (12 protected) all planted on Hugels (see previous post on Hugelkulter)
Hugel #1 – a Winter Banana Antique Apple and a Mutsu Semi-Dwarf Apple
Hugel #2 – a Hardy Giant Antique Sweet Cherry and a Shangri-La Mulberry
Hugel #3 – a Braeburn Apple and a Sierra Beauty Apple
Hugel #4 – Asian Pear Hybrid – Hosui, Chojure, and Shinseiki and a Pluot Hybrid – Dapple Dandy, Flavor Supreme, and Flavor King. Hybrids are different fruit types grafted on to the same trunk and root stock.
Hugel #5 – a Chicago Hardy Fig and a Peter’s Honey Fig
Hugel #6 – Two Sharp Velvet Pomegranates
And we have one (currently unprotected) All-In-One Semi-Dwarf Almond planted near the house outside the perimeter.
So we have addressed deer and rabbits and now all we have to concern ourselves with are raccoons, squirrels, gophers, mice, moles, birds and certain insects that want a piece of what we have. Whoever said that gardening wasn’t fun?