SPierce wrote: TheWaterbug wrote:
This method is completely impractical for anything except large, valuable fruit, but [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=198240#198240]here's what I did to protect my pumpkins[/url] last year.
It worked very, very well, but it can be somewhat labor intensive. I had the whole family in the living room, assembly-line style, "manufacturing" a set of these
that's fantastic, and similar to what I was thinking in terms of protection! Thank you!
Do you just make bigger cages as the pumpkins get bigger?
I made two sizes. I bought several rolls of [url=https://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202024121/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053]this hideously expensive stuff,[/url] then cut it either in half or in thirds down the length. From the third-width stuff I made 1' diameter cylinders with a 1' x 1' "lid", and from the half-width stuff I made 18" diameter with 18" x 18" lids. I assembled them with green twist-ties.
They ended up being $1-$2 apiece, but they should last for years, and I much prefer working with plastic mesh than with wire, especially with a 7-year-old helping me out. I have a big stack of them in my shed, just waiting to go into action.
I put the small ones on as soon as I saw a female flower emerge, then I'd go down in the mornings to hand-pollinate them, though I'm not 100% sure this was necessary. I'd occasionally see bees inside the cages, but I also saw that it took some effort for them to get in and out.
As soon as the pumpkins got too big, I'd switch to the larger cage and use the small cage for a new flower. By the time they got too big for the larger cage (I didn't have too many of those
) the rinds were usually hard enough and large enough in diameter that the squirrels couldn't do as much damage.
I considered using the 1" x 1" square mesh instead of this 3/4" hex mesh, but I don't know how small a hole a squirrel can squeeze through. After all, they're like 90% fluff, aren't they?
I'm planting more plants this year, so I might do a semi-controlled experiment and make some cages with the 1" material, and also try some lidless cages, just to see if they're effective at all.
The other issue to contend with is that the plain cylinder works well if the vine is on the ground. I just make two small holes on opposite sides of the bottom of the cylinder, then stake it down around the pumpkin with the vine passing through. This works in the early phases of growth, but some people like their Hallowe'en pumpkins grown on their flower ends instead of on their sides.
If I rotate a pumpkin, now the vine has to enter the cage at some height above the ground, and usually exit, too. I had some of them just exit through the top of the cage. But it was ugly.
I'll have to think through some other shapes/configurations for this year. Any suggestions?
I suppose this doesn't matter at all for watermelons and cantaloupes.
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!