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Bandicoot fencing

The most labour intensive work in my garden, for quite a few years now, is fencing.  Often I feel like those Greek fishermen you see in movies who spend most of their time mending nets.  Bandicoots are my big problem, and I’ve not yet found the perfect solution.

A proper permaculture solution would be a) get rid of the earthworms, so the bandicoots would go elsewhere looking for food, or b) to eat bandicoots. But besides the fact that they’re protected wildlife, they look a bit too much like big rats for me.  If I could imagine them a big guinea pigs and us as South Americans?  Nope.

Besides, I don’t imagine there would be enough meat on them to be worth the effort.  Killing and preparing meat is not easy – ethically, psychologically, physically – whether you raise animals or hunt them in the wild.  When you do it for yourself and make the connection between the real cost and the real value it changes the economics.

Not that I support vegetarianism as the solution to world food production ethics.  As soon as you start to seriously try to produce enough to feed yourself, you realise that plants and animals are part of a single ecosystem.  If you take animals out of the production loop, the substitutes are pretty unacceptable.  If you don’t have animal manure as a nitrogen source, you’re down to using ammonia produced by highly compressing and then super heating natural gas – a process that uses scarce unrenewables and produces lots of greenhouse gases.  If you don’t have bird manures as a source of phosphorus, you’re down to using ammoniated phosphates or superphosphate, made from scarce and depleting phosphate reserves.  It’s quite possible that running out of available phosphorus will get us before even global warming does.  If you don’t have animal protein sources, you’re down to eating a lot of broadacre legume crops, and doing that in a way that preserves animal habitats and avoids environmental poisons is hard too.

But given the personal and work cost of meat, you would want the result to be very appetising, and I can’t see bandicoots ever making the grade, so I’m down to trying to fence them out.  Buried sparrow wire lasts for around 5 to 8 years, but then it rusts along the ground line and they manage to break through.  In a single night they can make a garden bed look like Flanders fields.  Astounding the amount of effort they put into it.

I temporarily patched this fence to save the crops inside, but I know the patch won’t last.  So it’s trench digging time.  Lucky the ground is moist and soft, but I do wish I could think of a method that didn’t involve constant fence mending.


{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Joy July 29, 2013, 3:18 pm

    Welcome to my world – we bit the bullet and fully fenced the veg plot, shoulder high strong netting, wired at top and bottom, on top of metal sheets down a spade depth in the ground. But – cant stop the cabbage moth – tried the imitation plastic moths and shiny soft drink cans strung out – nope. Resorted to Neem spray. Also cant stop king parrots partaking of nearly ripe corn cobs. I dont mind sharing but some wildlife dont understand that. Joy

  • Linda July 29, 2013, 3:23 pm

    Hi Joy, I net over the top to keep out the king parrots (and the brush turkeys, possums, and bower birds. And I plant brassicas strictly in winter to avoid the cabbage moths. The idea of sharing is so nice, but I think it’s a very human idea. Parrots have no concept of it!

  • Clare July 29, 2013, 6:16 pm

    I sympathise though my damage hasn’t quite been enough yet to actually dig a trench round the whole garden (have bought the wire though). Had to put floopy top around top to keep the possums out after an overnight raid took my whole corn crop (that’s not sharing!) – seems to have worked well.

    Joy, the community garden at Coffs has used Dipel (bacteria) with success against white butterflies.

  • Jude July 30, 2013, 6:37 am

    We have used DP (dipel) on the cabbage whites in our school garden with some success, and we built raised beds to keep the bandicoots out (very successful) but we still have possums and people to contend with.
    At home I fence everything in totally, over the top, buried in the ground and guarded by a dog and guinea fowl.

  • kim July 30, 2013, 2:02 pm

    What about a solar electric fence wire , Linda? Would that work? Just sitting along at ground level . Nothing too zappy just enough to deter them . We don’t have bandicoots in this area, so maybe it’s a silly idea,I guess they would tunnel underneath!

  • Africanaussie July 30, 2013, 3:23 pm

    I found that we had to have quite fine fencing either at ground level or below, and we keep having to monitor the fence line. They are persistant. I have a small garden so have fenced the entire back yard, rather than just the veggie patch.

  • celia August 4, 2013, 5:36 am

    Linda, your comment that sharing is a very human concept struck a chord with me – I was thinking something similar last night as I was watching a documentary about sailfish and saw how they would decimate an entire bait ball of anchovies, leaving not a single one. I did wonder how they’d managed to not eat themselves out of existence, as we humans would certainly do if we didn’t actively put our minds to how NOT to do just that.

  • Anonymous August 30, 2017, 10:24 pm

    Re: Raised beds to keep bandicoots out. How can this possibly be effective because bandicoots can climb?

  • Linda August 31, 2017, 5:59 am

    My bandicoots can’t climb, and Jude’s comment indicates her’s can’t either. If yours have learned, please keep them! Climbing, digging garden destroyers – there’s a nightmare!

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