Gardening with ducks

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by newbyduckmom, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. newbyduckmom

    newbyduckmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2011
    Snohomish County, WA
    We just moved our duck pen. It now encompasses my 6 4X4 raised bed garden area where I have raspberries, rhubarb, garlic, peonies, lilies, and come Spring potatoes growing. The plan was to fence the beds, and cover with bird/deer netting during growing season. So far one of the hens has gotten into the rhubarb bed three times (with three ft fence around it) and has noodled her little beak in the soil. I am hoping the rhubarb survives.

    Not an option to change the location again, since hubby reconstructed things to incorporate two houses (hens and drakes) in one big fence location. Raspberries got eliminated in the process - in favor of placing one duck house on top of them as it was a flat spot. Wasn't my choice for location, but now I need to figure out if I can still garden in these beds, or if I need to relinquish the whole area to ducks. (Yes, I know potatoes, rhubarb, potatoes, garlic can be toxic).

    Has anyone tried the backyard chicken (or in this case duck) thing, successfully without total annihilation of the garden? How did you protect the plants? I had originally planned on just the 12- 18" edging type fencing covered with bird netting, but obviously if a three foot fence isn't keeping the ducks out, I need a little more substantial solution.

    It does make it easy to incorporate the duck bedding and such after cleaning the pens! But, I am at a bit of a loss as to how I can successfully use the beds at this point. They have already adopted the spot where there garlic is planted as their favorite spot to sit. (no fencing up there yet.)

    Love my ducks, but love my garden too.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  2. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

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    Clip their wings (just one) to keep them from going over your fencing around the garden beds.
     
  3. grawg

    grawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 31, 2011
    East Tennessee
    Let me know how that works out for you. I'm planning on fencing in my garden area this spring and letting the ducks have at it. Slugs have pretty much destroyed my fall plantings and it's time to bring out the big guns.

    As far as potatoes got, what about planting sweet potato? As long as you keep the growing area fenced, any vines that make it through will get eaten and my ducks love their sweet potato greens.

    As an experiment this year I planted squash, beans, and okra in their run to see what would grow or not. Only a couple beans came up and the squash was routinely picked clean of flower buds. They left the okra alone though [​IMG]
     
  4. newbyduckmom

    newbyduckmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2011
    Snohomish County, WA
    Sweet potato can grow here only if you are really lucky. We are pretty cool and have a short season. Even tomatoes, peppers, beans are a challenge. Although I have grown okra, tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. I am thinking of moving crops around and planting things such as lettuce, collards, swiss chard in the beds since they are susceptible to slugs and, in theory, the ducks show alleviate that problem. But will definitely have to find a way to keep them out of the beds if I do.

    Hadn't even considered clipping their wings (duh!). Amazed that they can navigate to flying over the 3 ft fence into a 4x4 bed. They don't seem to have much control when they fly, but obviously they have more than I thought!
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Southern New England
    I use a number of barriers for my runners and gardens.

    3' high chicken wire has worked to keep them out of the rhubarb. I keep them out of the asparagus/tea garden with 3' woven wire fence and a gate.

    If yours are hopping the 3' fence, I'd try making hoops from metal tubing or Schedule 40 1" pipe, and run fence or even light row cover up and over the beds. With the row cover, you can roll it up to harvest. With fence material, you'll need to come up with a satisfactory way to move it out of the way.

    I have an upside-down chicken wire basket that fits over my 4'x4' bed, too. I hinged it at one end so I could prop it up to get at the bed. This approach was inspired by squirrels, not ducks.

    Having something else interesting in their area helps quite a bit. But barriers are necessary, too.

    I love watching them forage when I let them into garden areas after harvest or right before planting.

    I didn't get them off the tea garden soon enough last spring. But I dodged the worst case, just had some bee balm coming up rather late.
     
  6. 70%cocoa

    70%cocoa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you sure they're not pushing under the fence, rather than getting over? That's what mine do...
     
  7. AnaD

    AnaD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My ducks seem unable to get over anything more than a foot tall. [​IMG]
     
  8. grawg

    grawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    East Tennessee
    There you go, just need your DH to build you some greenhouses and you'll be all set. [​IMG] That'll even give you the added benefit of growing some of those more heat loving crops.
     
  9. newbyduckmom

    newbyduckmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2011
    Snohomish County, WA
    Well, I went around and secured the based of the fence with staples hammered into the very hard ground yesterday, and checked that there were no apparent gaps today. And she still got in. Honestly, didn't think she could fly over either as it's not the big of a target to hit. Don't see any way they could go under, but who knows? The one hen that keeps getting in there repeatedly flies out of the hen house which is a little taller than a 3' fence.

    Yeah, I like the greenhouse idea....DH wouldn't!

    The row cover is a good idea as well...they won't want what they can't see, right?

    Thanks for the suggestions. Silly ducks seem to love their new compound, but love it just a little too much.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  10. 70%cocoa

    70%cocoa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is the fence kind of floppy (that is, does it bend if you push it?) or rigid? I have seen my drake more or less climb a floppy-ish mesh fence - it kind of bent away from him as he started up it and that allowed him to walk up it, gripping onto the mesh with his toes bent. But it was only about 1.5 feet tall.

    Your ducks are obviously very motivated!!!
     

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