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Got possums? Join the club!!

It seems like these cute but cheeky little critters are the BIGGEST deterrent to people growing their own in Brisbane (followed closely by the bush turkeys... but that's a whole other post!).

I've been spending a lot of time talking to home-gardeners at the markets and it seems like 90% of people have a horror story in which they have been burned by possums and gardening.

I don't blame them! It can be devastating to spend all that time nurturing your plants from tiny seedlings all the way through to a lush, ready to harvest crop... then BAM! Mowed overnight by a hungry furbomb..! :(

So IS it possible to have both possums AND a garden? Well "it depends" and "maybe" are two possible answers...

These are my possum buddies. I've got both types - ringtail and brushtail and they certainly make themselves at home, helping themselves to anything they find lying around the kitchen (butter, wine, sugar, birthday candles..) breaking dishes, having possum parties and generally wreaking havoc..

So how do I keep them out of my gardens?!

Well, I stand by the philosophy that we have to learn to live as though we are a part of nature rather than apart from nature. I've figured out that my furry buddies seem to have a particular fondness for parsley. To deter them, I simply throw an old sack over the top of any delicious-looking clumps and leave out an offering of old fruit scraps. Somewhere far away from the gardens :)

Now this approach is controversial, don't get me wrong. It is possible that I am creating a far worse situation by encouraging every neighbourhood possum around for a feed, not to mention creating some unhealthy dependency issues. However, so far it has worked. AND I even manage to skip a few days sometimes without significant damage to my gardens. Well trained possums? Maybe.

I know not everyone will agree with this method and there are certainly numerous others that I have heard of... fish sauce, possum deterrent spray, vicks vapourub, dog urine, creating surfaces that they don't like to walk on, converting your garden into Fort Knox... from all reports these methods have either been hit and miss from those who have tried them or too much trouble to be worth it.

So I'm sticking with my peace offerings for the moment. And working on some possum-proof designs while I'm at it... :D

How about you? Have you got a good possum story or suggestions on how to keep them away from gardens?

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Do FF sting avo's - if so I will have to rethink.,  I thought by having the net up during the day it would allow for pollination and putting down at night should (cross fingers) stop the possums

Ah - wasn't thinking in terms of avo, was thinking more of other fruits. And it's the possums you are netting for not the FF!

Just an option --since it worked against the bush turkey -- I ringed my seedlings with bamboo skewers. It definitely worked.

Cheap enough and is easily customized.

Just remember to remove the skewers when weeding around the plants as you too will be pricked.

This  proves how effective the skewer method is. Weeding among skewers is savaging. Never do it!

The best skewers are the thicker butcher standard long ones. In the soil they remain sharp and upright ..and always vicious. Oblique angles jutting outwards from the plant protection area is what you want. Knitting needles would be great too.

Whether they'll work against possums depends on how much pain they can tolerate or whether their hide and fur makes them immune to the sharp points. The bush turkey -- and we know the size,bulk and height, of that bird -- staid away from skewer patches.

I used to keep rabbits (interstate) and know their habits from farm hols -- rabbits can live in blackberry patches without any consideration of the thorns. So maybe possums can do likewise.

Since my poultry visitor hasn't come back for a few months after I installed these defences, I've removed the skewers and now keep them in reserve for any future invasion.

What I'd do -- since I'm experienced with skewer defenses(I've been asked me to give classes at Duntroon) -- is any upcoming fruiting body on a plant like cucumbers, I'd lay down a covering fire of skewers. Same for defenceless seedlings.

The other technique I employed was run jute twine just above the fence line. Depending on your fences of course(mine are 1.5 metres tall): I rested old branch uprights against the fence and ran the light twine just above the fence top so that either landing (as per turkey) and clambering along (as per possum?) is very difficult because the twine handicaps travel. Turkeys only jump up to a place they know they can navigate en route into and out of a garden. It was clear that the bird always had her exits mapped and preferred thes ame routes into and out of the garden.

If there are trees along the fenceline you could ring them with metal/tin sheets(even plastic?) as the city parks do in Melbourne to prevent marsupial climbing. The bird taught me that while she could get into the garden easily enough she always planned on a quick and easy exit. When you start obstructing that exit route her welcome has worn out.

It's only kinda working for me Dave.  Percy can dig around the spikes.  Some damage, but I can live with it. I do chase him, but not with any sincerity.  I did have to cover the root vege with wire. 

My possums do minimal damage.  They barely rate a "G'day mate." on the way past.

THE DAMN RATS!!!!!  Arrrghhh.... them I hate.  The good news is that they only eat certain things, and they stay under cover.  Don't plant lettuce in the aquaponics beds.  Toms are fine as is mint, basil and chili.   They only eat Kang Kong up one end of the bed.  

I'm gradually reaching equilibrium with my wild critters, although 27 rats have died to achieve it.  

FYI: I planted a forest of skewers on targeted defenses --and then adjusted the spacing to suit. When you go to weed you realize how brutal the battlements are.

You have my deepest sympathy for your continuing losses. The frustration must be immense.

Your huge rat problem suggests that there must be something driving these creatures into your yard.What's the story locally re drains, demolitions, road works or the like? I mean if they are eating Kang Kong or lettuce they are desperate. Or there is a cubby hole in the mix that's sort of cosy plus.

Any rats here come into the property...they visit. They could not survive within the perimeter.

I'm really glad I haven't got many trees and only one above 2.5-3 metres. Possums use the fence line and sheds for access. ..and that puts them in barking distance of the dogs. At night the dogs will jump up and surge out back over the slightest disturbance. Their hearing is amazing. I always get up to re-enforce such keen watch doggery.

That's partly because they also break into the chook pen after any rat -- and in the morning the poultry is out and about.

If they'd only chase bush turkeys their blood would indeed be worth bottling.But there that was my mistake: I trained them not to chase birds...and then the turkey turned up...and they visit in daylight hours. I thought of adding scarecrow to the mix. Thinking that any turkey who jumps up to the fenceline would balk at the outline...esp after I (as a human) had be throwing projectiles at it .

There's some kind of fruit-spotting bug which bothers Avos. If you cut open an Avo and there's kind of 'bones' inside - half-round blobs of shell tissue (the skin of a ripe Hass is shell-like), that's where this beetle-thing has stung the fruit.

I can't be certain about fruit flies and Avos, not looked into that at all. The thin-skinned varieties are more likely to be stung if they are attractive to ffs or that's my reasoning.


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