Badgers are certainly headline news at present and without getting drawn into the debate on the proposed cull, it's fair to say they can be a major pest in the vegetable garden.
However, there are plenty of techniques the keen gardener can fall back on to foil these much-loved countryside dwellers without resorting to violence and hopefully enjoy the presence of badgers in the garden without suffering extensive plant losses.
Our renowned photographer and horticulturist Martin Fiddes has plenty of gardening experience to draw upon and here's his advice on how to stop badgers from gatecrashing a fruit cage and generally wrecking a garden!
Badgers are renowned for raiding soft fruit despite the presence of a fruit cage but I’ve got a few ideas which may well curtail these nocturnal sorties and allow you to enjoy your cage – and fruit of course - to the full.
The fruit cages we supply as standard are designed to keep out birds predominantly but will of course offer protection from domestic pets, large and small mammals and many other problem species in the garden. However, there always a few creatures – mainly rabbits, squirrels and badgers – who will try and force a way into the cage and there are various methods of cage reinforcement to stop them.
Firstly, you could try attaching the bottom of the netting to some heavy duty wooden battens which are too heavy for the badgers to lift or move. A neat finish can be achieved by using reclaimed railway sleepers or wood of a similar size and weight and if your cage is surrounded by lawn or grass, this method allows easy strimming up to the wood instead of damaging and shredding the netting.
If that idea doesn’t sit well in your garden, you might want to try reinforcing the cage by wrapping a roll of galvanised rabbit wire around the bottom of the cage and dig the wire into the soil to a depth of around 6”. Extend a lip of netting outwards from the cage by around the same distance to stop animals digging directly down by the mesh. As badgers are more powerful diggers, you may want to double these dimensions to try and ensure they don’t get underneath.
If you consider the galvanised wire isn’t up to the job, then the electro-welded chicken wire most certainly will be. Designed to keep foxes out of chicken runs, it’s a beast of a mesh – 0.8mm thick and galvanised – and once sunk into the ground along the perimeter of the cage will put a stop to the badgers gaining entry.
If you’d rather go for a more subtle approach, try our outdoor Pest Stop. The ultrasonic sound waves emitted by the simple to set, battery operated unit will repel all mammals from a rat right through to a deer and should keep your garden clear. An alternative is a motion detected sprinkler which squirts a jet of water at any garden intruder and it’s also worth investigating the possibility of installing a mini electric fence – both should be readily available from home and garden outlets and online.
Finally, you could try giving the badgers what they want and set up a feeding station away from the fruit cage. Badgers often uproot crops and bulbs in particular in the search for moisture so providing them with a clean source of drinking water might be the answer.
You’re probably well aware that badgers are a protected species and that’s why I’ve steered clear of recommending any sprays or chemical deterrents. I’d recommend you contact DEFRA or a body such as the Badger Trust for more detailed information on this subject but hopefully one or more of the solutions I’ve identified above will prove effective.