A few tricks to keep animals out of your farm…
I have a vegetable garden. The monkeys take my brinjals, the parakeets take the chillies, the moles take the cauliflower, leaf curl gets my tomatoes, and squirrels come for some seeds. I get the mint, dhaniya and the different saags. But over the last one year I have been dealing with different ways in which to get a more equitable share of the vegetables, and some of these work. For instance, we discovered that monkeys only eat the round brinjals so now we plant only the long ones. (However, the probable truth is, that we feed the monkeys every morning with two chappatis and a banana and then they go away)
You can keep animals out of your farm and garden without resorting to traps, guns and poisons. Let’s start with the farm first. I had written about this earlier but here are some more ideas:
In Saswad near Pune they are experimenting with machines, on the perimeters, that use motion sensors which can detect the presence of a wild animal. Once the sensors detect the presence of a wild animal, the gadgets set off flashers with bright lights or loud sounds, which drive the animal away from the field.
Farmers in Tamil Nadu use second-hand fishnets as fences. They are not expensive, look like metal and so deter both boar and gaur. They buy the fishnets in Gudalur for Rs.80 a kg. Monkeys stay away because they are scared of being caught in the net.
Rotten eggs, mixed with water, also works in some areas. Some farmers burn sticks dipped in phenyl.
Burning dung with half a kilo of chillies is being done by farmers in Himachal Pradesh, who have found the method effective in keeping away wild boar. Demonstrations in Odisha, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh shows it works even better in keeping away elephants. The simplest method consists of planting a wide row of chilli peppers around cultivated fields and gardens.
However, according to all scientists, animals, especially deer /gaur etc. only come into the farms during the dry season. If the farmers dug water holes in the forests and planted fruit/berry trees and bushes they would not come out at all.
In Varanasi fences are being made with reels of audiotape that are wrapped round bamboo stands. Other farmers use reflective ribbons.
Here are the garden ideas:
Vegetables should be planted on raised beds. Small animals, like squirrels, moles, rats, are reluctant to get on to raised beds as they avoid areas that make them visible. Make the paths between the beds very narrow so that they feel they cannot hide there.
Coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil and keep slugs and snails away. It is also good as a base when you grow radishes, peppers, potatoes. Soak a couple of packets of chewing tobacco in a bucket full of water. Let this sit overnight and next day spray it all over the garden. The snails run.
Mint, sage, parsley and lemon balm will also keep slugs and snails away; and so will small bunches of human hair kept in different places in the garden. Dog and cat hair will also do.
Corn can be protected by interplanting pumpkins or gourds and cucumbers.
Aphids are small insects that suck the sap from plants, resulting in leaf curl or yellowing. They feed in clusters on new plant growth. Neem oil should be sprayed onto plants infested with aphids. Place aluminium foil at the base of your plants. The foil reflects light onto the undersides of the leaves, which scares away aphids. Sunflowers are hardy and a trap crop for aphids and other pests.
Neem oil also controls funguses. A solution of several teaspoons of Baking Soda dissolved in water can help prevent and treat fungus and powdery mildew on plants. Use as a preventative and acute treatment as needed. Chilly plants that are showing leaf curl should be sprayed with diluted curd or buttermilk.
Growing garlic and onions in between aphid-prone plants is another way to keep them away. Or bring in ladybirds who are natural aphid eaters. Growing coriander and marigold attracts ladybirds. In fact, interplanting any of these, and chives and lavender, keeps most animals at bay.
It’s difficult to detect rats or to get rid of them. I just notice those huge holes in the vegetable patches and my heart sinks. But lavender, marigold and mint keep them away as they really hate these. In fact, if you spray peppermint oil, or soak cotton in it and put it all over the garden, they will stay away.
Squirrels like freshly planted seedbeds. They also like beans, cucumbers and eggplants. To keep them away, mix 1/3 cup flower, 2 tablespoons red chilli powder and two tablespoons powdered mustard and sprinkle around the garden. If you want to spray it, add 4 cups of water and some vinegar.
Even just sprinkling vegetables with pepper will deter monkeys from eating them.
Using mulch, which includes straw and small bits of wood bark, between the vegetables not just regulates the soil temperature but it deters animals who don’t like walking over it.
Place a few stout sticks near the vegetables you want protected from monkeys. They have an aversion to sticks (as we all do).
Make sealed small packets with boneless dry fish pieces and keep around the field. After opening the packets monkeys rub the fish with both hands. They hate the smell and constantly rub their hands on rocks till they bleed. They don’t come back after that.
Adilabad farmers use colour and sound. They use cheap coloured saris to fence fields, and empty liquor bottles and large tin cans to create unnatural sounds that spook the fauna.
To join the animal welfare movement contact email@example.com, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org