[NAFEX] decoy crops
Docshiva at Docshiva.org
Sun Dec 2 20:23:52 EST 2007
The squirrel repellant was useless. They actually left the pomegranates
alone for a few days, it seemed, but it would have been extravagantly
expensive to have kept spraying, as they would raid the fruit at any level
of ripeness. Last year, they ate the fruit when very, very immature; this
year, when nearly ripe. I think it depends on what other food is available
As for decoy crops, my most successful was a small-fruited red cherry - not
one you would grow for the fruit, by any means - with plentiful, brightly
colored fruit. Our eating cherry was a blushed yellow variety. The two
trees were next to each other. The red cherries got swarmed, with almost no
damage to the yellow cherries. I do think that distracting beasts away from
your food works best with something they're very attracted to blooming or
available at the same time, and somehow making your food crop less
attractive. I've even used feeders near my apples, and scary-Mylar-bird
tape in the trees; the combination worked where neither one by itself was
much effective. With the cherries, the yellow was simply not as attractive.
My other good success was with clover planted just outside my garden.
Raiding the garden would have required a makeable but high jump; the clover
was right there on the easy side of the fence, sweet and plentiful. I still
got deer in the garden, but they hardly took anything. I also fed the
raccoons cat food, or, rather, they took their share of what was originally
intended for the cats, but they caused no garden damage. My worst varmints
were ground-dwelling rodents. I put in owl towers and poisoned
(organically, harmless to birds and cats) some runs. And we had cats. I'm
straying from the decoy crops subject, aren't I?
I haven't posted lately, I'll update - the garden at the new house has
failed thrice. The oranges succeed. I had thought them terribly sour, but
they sweeten up in midsummer, very nicely. As for veg and strawberries, the
soil seems to kill nearly everything, apparently pathogenically. Some herbs
are doing okay, some struggling, others thriving, others won't take. I've
had trouble with mint and epazote, both should be weed-like in their ease.
I plan to solarize the soil next year. Even areas where the poor soil was
built up into dark loam are plant cemeteries. The one pepper plant that
survived the summer, having recovered from infection, still lives, though it
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of William C. Garthright
Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 9:17 AM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] decoy crops
> I definately want to try that brilliant fake cherry scheme mentioned
Yes, that really sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? If you've ever
put out bird feeders where birds have not been fed before, you'll note
that it can take them awhile to find it (especially if there are no bird
feeders in the neighborhood). And numbers will grow the longer they've
been fed there. I know people who've fed birds for years, and it's
really incredible the numbers they attract.
So I wonder how decoy crops would work for birds. (Admittedly, birds are
more territorial in the summer, so your local robins, for example, might
keep other robins from the bounty. In the winter, when most bird feeding
is done, birds tend to flock up.) But the fake cherry idea would
probably discourage local birds from re-checking a tree when the real
cherries get ripe. I like it!
I'd like to see a picture of the fake cherries sometime, though. I'm not
sure exactly how it is done, how closely they must resemble a real cherry.
> I watch the birds feeding on the blueberries from my living room
> window- the bushes pulsate with their frenzied feeding. This brings me
> and my family great pleasure even though I can't be sure these plants
> aren't luring more fruit lovers to my site.
Yes, I wonder. It might depend on what species you're feeding. Some
birds (cedar waxwings, for example) are wide-ranging and feed in flocks,
even in the summer. Once they discover a food source, you may get large
numbers swooping in. Others (like robins) are fiercely territorial
during their breeding season and might keep rivals out themselves.
On the other hand, where food is abundant, territories are generally
smaller. You'll have more 'local' birds packed into a smaller area.
Also, your local robins will lay more eggs and raise more young. I think
it was a single large family of young robins that wiped out my black
raspberries this year. And I think that squirrels are the same way,
unfortunately. They are territorial, but if they get lots of food, their
territories will shrink and they'll produce more young themselves. At
least, I think so (I'm no expert).
I like to see wildlife in the yard, but I don't want to lose my entire
crop, either. I guess what I really need to do is to encourage predators
- owls, hawks (especially accipiters), etc. If you've ever seen a flock
of birds really PANIC when a sharp-shinned or Cooper's hawk flies into
the area, you'll know how effective that could be. Unfortunately, birds
are too smart to be fooled by bird decoys (and we don't have any
accipiters around here in the summer - few enough at any time of the year).
Regarding squirrels, since smell is so important to them (they seem to
have very poor eyesight), you'd think that repellents would work to keep
them from certain trees. But I've never found any that seem to do much
good. Hmm,... wasn't someone here testing a new kind of squirrel
repellent? I seem to remember that from earlier this year. If so, how
did it go?
Lincoln, NE (zone 5)
Mythology is where all gods go to die. - Sam Harris
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