Thursday, August 3, 2023

Fencing potatoes

About three weeks ago, the potatoes growing in the grow bags were looking splendid.

Crucially, however, they were situated outside the fence enclosing the adjacent strawberry beds. Deer don't usually choose potatoes to nibble on ... until they do. I knew I was taking a chance by keeping them unfenced.

Then one morning I noticed the potatoes looked like they'd been disturbed.

Sure enough, evidence of nibbling.

Well, it wasn't unexpected. One of the reasons we put the potato bags where we did is because it would be so easy to expand the fence around the strawberry beds to enclose the potatoes as well.

We were able to do this so easily because we were using horse panels purchased a couple years ago in a "screamin' good deal." These units can be assembled into whatever configuration is needed.

The panels are very, very heavy, so we used the tractor to transport them from the barn to the front of the house where the strawberry beds are located.

Before we could install the fencing, however, we had to take care of an issue.

Yes, a colony of yellow jackets had moved into the hollow of one of the panels around the strawberries. Since we needed to move these existing panels to reconfigure the enclosure, these nasty little beasts were doomed.

I seriously hate yellow jackets with a loathing born of fear from being badly stung many years ago. It took me a long time to even be able to be in the same vicinity as a colony. I certainly wasn't about to put up with them nesting in a panel around the strawberries I tended daily.

Thankfully I have a brave husband who doesn't mind taking care of such issues.

With that problem out of the way, we unwrapped the deer netting from around the enclosure, added the new horse panels in a configuration that enclosed the potatoes, and re-wrapped the netting.

I took these last two photos early this morning (before sunrise). You'll notice how the potatoes are looking less lush than in the earlier pictures above (taken around July 8). This is just a normal part of their late maturity cycle.

Now that they're protected from the deer, I'll wait until the first frost kills the plants, then harvest the potatoes. It will be interesting to see how well the grow bags worked.


  1. I'm surprised any animal would eat potato plants. They are poisonous. I bet that deer got a good stomachache.

  2. We have a nest of yellowjackets in the wall of the house. They've been coming and going behind one of the outdoor light fixtures. I don't normally mind them but these buggers dive straight at your head and they're aggressive. Ugh. But trying to find a wasp/hornet spray has been difficult around here. I checked four stores last week and found bare shelves in every one. We were reduced to buying a "flying bug" spray that can only spray a fine mist. The yellowjackets must be bad this year.

  3. I had far too many seed potatoes saved from last year to fit into the garden so I ended up making a few new beds outside. Even though I caged each of those beds with 2x4 welded wire, the deer keep pressing their noses into the cages to bend them just enough to nip at any potato leaves near the edges. And they are absolutely incorrigible! I've caught one young buck having at them three times now!

  4. Yellowjackets are vicious critters. If they decide attack you, they will follow you all the way across the garden, through the back yard, up the stairs, and into the house. As me how I know...

  5. For wasp/hornet spray, we've used brake cleaner successfully. Don't spray it on anything with paint, though.

  6. I use WD-40 to deter the yellow jackets. Disk soap in a moderate water mix and spray bottle does a good job eliminating the nests.

  7. No soft heart for insects that can kill people. But please spray them after dark when ALL the yellow jackets are in their nest and you are unlikely to be attacked when spraying.

  8. Use Sevin dust in an empty glue bottle to poof the dust in and around the yellow jacket nest. They will carry the dust on their feet and bodies into the nest and that will kill their queen. Might need to do it several times(aftedark) depending on the size of nest. To find the nest: throw powdered sugar in the air onto them and then watch where they fly to. You will be able to see their white covered bodies in the air. The nest will less than 50 ft away. If you can find the queen (unbelievably big and ugly), make sure you kill it. I stomped one.

  9. Apparently all of the folage parts of potato plants are poisonous to the giant antlered rats. However, according to some research, the giant antlered rats will only eat potato folage IF there is "nothing else to eat", which is probably code for "they've already eaten ALL of your garden and roses".

    Used to use gasoline on yellowjacket nests around 0400, but gasoline has gotten far too expensive to use on these evil insects.

  10. Ya'll would have to talk about yellow jackets. Now one is outside my window. Will have to add spray to the list now. It is getting to where more money sometimes need to be spent on pests than food.