The Q&A Archives: What 'varmints' are a problem on lagoons in coastal south Jersey?

Question: What creatures from the water are a problem in coastal New Jersey? I want to plant a new very large vegetable garden at our new house, and don't really want to put out the money to buy a ton of chicken wire to cover the bottom of the garden if I don't need to. Many years ago, the previous owners said a muskrat used to come out of the lagoon and eat the vegetables, but there hasn't been a garden in many many years. Has there been any reports of critters in my area, or do you know where I could find out? I don't see any veggie gardens in my area, anywhere, so I can't even knock on anyone's door and ask!

Answer: I would suggest you contact the New Jersey Fish Game and Wildlife people

as well as the county extension office for the area where you will be moving to. A local park or nature preserve naturalist might also be helpful. They should be able to tell you what to expect or direct you to local people who should be familiar with the wildlife in the local area where you will be living.

As far as protecting the garden, I am not sure why you would fence under it. You most likely will need a perimeter fence of wire mesh that goes up and also extends outward along the ground and about a foot deep underground to prevent tunneling into the garden. The top of the wire mesh should be bent back outward to prevent climbing over top of it, too. You will probably also want to use one or more strands of electric fence to repel animals such as deer, raccoons and woodchucks (these can climb as well as dig under fences).

The following offer some suggestions on wildlife management from a gardener's perspective

In my experience -- as much as I love the wild animals -- any rural area has far more wildlife than a person would expect, and a vegetable garden is an open invitation to dine. Preventing access to the garden is your best defense. I hope this helps you plan. Good luck with your veggies this summer!!

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