Friday, November 3, 2017

Raising the ceiling

In my last post, I linked to a brush with fate, in my vegetable garden. Or simply, how to invite brush turkeys to dinner, by watering. They like to dig up ground which is moist. Because it's easier to dig and attracts soil life to consume.

Turkey scratching in my hugel bed

Well, I finally managed to do something about the situation. I purchased some moth netting from the hardware store, with the intention of covering my hugel bed. I had a plan, but it required my husband's help, retrieving other building materials from the jungle (aka: outside storage area).

In the meantime though, I hung the netting over the bed, with just the blue milk crate, to hold off the plants. It succeeded at deterring turkeys, but was inadvertently killing the plants underneath. I'd successfully put a lid on a very full saucepan, and the plants were cooking.

Metal rebar

David was finally able to help me (between rain storms) retrieve some long rebar, from an overgrown thicket. Using the angle grinder, I cut one 6m piece, into four - making them 1.5m long. Then hammered each, into the four corners of the hugelkultur bed, by 20-30cms.

I had scraps of other building materials, to put onto the upright rebar...

Archways, and wilting silverbeet

Old water pipe, leftover from the original house build, was something I wanted to find a purpose for (instead of storage). So was the rebar, for that matter. I'd been wondering, how to use those 6m lengths for about a decade! Now they're helping me grow food.

Back to the water pipe though - I merely cut enough length, to create an arch across the bed, at both ends. It required a handsaw to cut the pipe, being so thick. Which made it perfect for holding the arch shape. I don't have to worry about flopping over.


Then it was just a matter, of draping the netting over the archways. I purchased 5 metres of netting, which was sufficient, to cover all sides of the bed.

Metal clip

To secure the netting, I first started with regular bulldog clips, attached to the rebar. Being metal however, I knew they'd rust over time, and possibly discolour the netting. So after a week, I replaced them with plastic ones, found at Bunnings Hardware.

Plastic clip

Now, the inside has a lot more filtered light, and air flow, which is allowing the plants to thrive. Making it so far, the best performer from all my hugel beds.

October 23 - first erected

November 3 - twenty days, later

The silverbeet has gone gangbusters. And while the netting doesn't keep absolutely all insect critters out - it reduces them significantly. PLUS, I don't get turkey damage, which is the main goal for this particular infrastructure.

I'm considering doing something similar with the other two beds. Now we've retrieved the rebar from the undergrowth, it won't take long. 

This particular bed has some other challenges, which needed addressing. Aptly covered by Permaculture principle #11 - use edges and value the marginal.

But more about that next time.


  1. We have our watersaver garden covered like that too, Chris. It keeps the birds out of the lettuce. I used to use veggienet when I had cabbages in there one year but got some mould so now I use one of hubby's fishing nets. Works a treat :-)

    1. Great to know you can use other forms of netting, if you need to improvise! Thanks for the idea.

  2. Hi there Chris,

    I have a problem with my chooks digging my front garden (flowers) to bits. They are going to get their wing clipped shortly! Out the back where I have mulched under the fruit trees, I covered the straw with cheap bird netting that had been given to us. It works a treat and the chooks cant get at it!

    I want to put a cover over my beds like the one you have shown instead of the shade cloth flapping in the breeze all the time. I can do that on some, probably most of my beds. The plants really do love that protection, just look at your silver beet grow!


    1. Where you're located, I imagine if you don't find where they've scratched before the sun goes to bed, it could set your fruit trees back, the next day. You've got more exposure, heat and evaporation where you are. Netting would be a cheaper alternative than losing fruit trees. I've found large branches, laid around the tree, prevents them from scratching too.

      Funnily enough, I have silverbeet in other hugel beds, and they're really suffering from the direct sun exposure. They have not grown at all, and they're constantly losing leafs that wilt. So I'm really glad the protective cover works! And when we got hail the other week, their leafs were untouched. Unlike other plants in the garden.

  3. I've had to net the blueberry bushes that I grow in pots, something (I suspect a possum) was having a lovely feast each night! Meg:)

    1. Oh dear. If it wasn't the possums, it was probably the birds! Our mulberry trees are constantly stripped by birds. Glad you found something to protect your bushes.

  4. I've done the same with each of my wicking boxes. It works well. It keeps the blackbirds from digging up small seedlings and most important, keeps the cabbage whites off the brassicas.

    1. Are you able to grow brassicas in summer, using the netting and your wicking boxes? Just curious. This is my first summer with the netting.

  5. So many things to deter in the garden! Excellent solution, Chris. I'm going to see if just shade cloth will work for my hoop house this winter. I'm not trying to keep any warm weather crops in there anyway, but a little protection might be all that's needed.

    1. It will be interesting to learn from your shade-cloth protection during winter. Sometimes the smallest change, marks the biggest difference in success, the next growing season. :)


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