Last spring the first two tomato plants I put in the community garden were eaten. I planted the first one, and when I returned a few days later it was only a stub. I planted another in its place and the same thing happened. Frustrated, I surrounded the third plant with a ring of 2 foot high fencing with small openings. That worked. I wrapped subsequent tomato cages with 2 foot high layer of gardening fleece and left it until the plants grew too big to be tender and tasty. That was effective also, but I can’t always wrap every individual planting. So I decided to bite the bullet this spring and install a fence around the entire 10 x 20 foot plot.
This past February I took a stroll around the quiet, abandoned community garden and observed how other people had fenced their plots.
Some gardeners held up their fence with wooden posts, which are readily available and inexpensive, but I am concerned that they would not last for many years. This community garden area does not have good drainage and is like a swamp during the early spring rains. I’m afraid wood fence posts might split, rot or attract insects.
Most of the gardeners attached their fencing to a “U post,” which is made of coated metal and has little teeth that hook onto the fencing. Some gardeners used plastic netting, which is easy to attach to the posts and is lightweight, but I read that some particularly determined critters will gnaw right through plastic.
Some gardeners used coated metal fence, which is sturdy and long lasting. The green coating blends in nicely with the garden, but the grid openings are too large to keep out small animals. As a matter of fact, I have been advised to bury the bottom of the fence a few inches to deter burrowing invaders like voles (field mice).
This gardener used chicken wire fence and did bury the bottom of the fence into the soil. It’s even better to bend the buried fence out at a ninety degree angle so that the animal cannot dig down under the fence either. I still think voles could squeeze through the small openings in chicken wire, though, so I plan to use fencing with even smaller openings.
Some garden fencing is designed with smaller openings on the bottom, probably because the smallest creatures are lowest to the ground(???) This is the type of fencing I used to surround the individual tomato plants last year, but I was concerned with mainly rabbits then. The fencing I want to install now has to keep out those pesky voles. (I hate voles, and I hate being surprised by them when they scurry by.)
After consulting my two best online friends, Google and YouTube, I have come up with a plan. I purchased two foot high fencing with 1/4″ grid openings, along with thirteen U posts. I hope to dig a four inch trench around the perimeter of the plot, pound in the posts, and attach the fence to the posts with copper wire I have left over from crafting. I hope to be able to cut the bottom few inches of fencing at each corner, so that the bottom can flare out slightly underground. Then replace the excavated soil and cover the pathway side with mulch (as is my community garden duty).
Because the fence is only two feet high to begin with, burying the bottom four inches or so will leave a very short fence–perhaps easily jumped by a rabbit. So I am considering backing it up with a fencing kit I purchased from Gardeners Supply. The kit consists of rather tall (4.5 feet?) wooden poles with garden netting that is clipped to them. My research also led to the claim that critters are unable to climb fencing that is loose on the top, and drapes down over them. (There is no support for them to cling to.) So I won’t attach the top of the netting.
At least that’s the plan.