How to animal-proof your cannabis garden
Humans aren't the only species with a taste for cannabis. Many different animals will happily chomp away at your plants if they are left unprotected.
Although we are most likely the only one to utilize cannabis for its psychoactive properties, many other animal species see these fresh and flourishing plants as a nourishing and tasty snack. But the last thing you want is for your cannabis garden to be destroyed by animals.
Both indoor and outdoor crop can fall prey to a variety of different animals, with outdoor crop being much more susceptible. Small pests, such as aphids and leaf miners are the usual suspects when it comes to thinking about potential threats to a cannabis crop. However, much larger species are also worth erecting defenses against. Anything from deer, rodents, moles, and household pets can cause damage to your plants, to the extent that it could reduce yields size and quality.
Below are some tips regarding specific species, and how to protect your plants against them.
Rats are a prolific species that breed at a rapid rate and give birth to large litters. Due to their stealthy nature, they can penetrate buildings and go unnoticed for long periods of time, whilst they breed and increase in numbers. Although rats have easy access to outdoor cannabis plants, they can easily make a meal of plants grown indoors, especially in urban environments, where their population is usually huge.
Making sure your growing area is secure to begin with is a superior strategy, as opposed to waiting for signs to occur and risking damage to your plants. If you think you’re at low risk of a rodent invasion, then simply consider reducing or eliminating any access points into your grow room and building as a whole. Inspect the perimeter of your grow location and check thoroughly for any small holes and cracks that a rat could potential squeeze through. Consider blocking off these access points using silicone or other sealant materials.
If rats have already taken a foothold in your grow space, this will be made apparent by droppings on the floor, and even small nibble marks on leaves and stems. In this case it's still best to secure the perimeter first and foremost. Then proceed by setting up traps in order to begin to remove them, and prevent them from doing further damage.
Humane traps can be used to trap rodents alive and remove them. However, the sheer number of rodents might mean this isn’t an option. Lethal traps can be set in such cases. Some growers will also opt to lay down poison to reduce rat numbers, however this isn’t the most environmentally friendly option.
Growers in more rural settings could also consider obtaining a feline companion to hunt down mice efficiently. Cats might have the occasional chew on cannabis leaves, but they will do less damage than a large rat invasion. Netting can be used to prevent damage form the cat, but this won’t keep out the rats.
Deer occupy the opposing end of the size spectrum. These majestic creatures are a magnificent sight, and those with gardens in the right locations are lucky to be able to frequently catch a glimpse of them. However, there is a major downside to this. Deer eat large amounts of vegetation each day and the sight and smell of cannabis leaves might be far too much to resist.
The first line of defense against deer is to erect relatively tall fences around the garden perimeter to stop them trampling on garden beds and demolishing plants. Nets should also be placed around plants as an added line of defense in case deer get confident and manage to jump the fencing. Those dealing with particularly brave deer might need to take more extreme measures and put up an electric fence.
Automated systems, that can effectively turn away deer, can also be put in place. Motion-detecting lights or sprinkles can be installed, so they spring into action when deer get too close for comfort.
These techniques will also be effective against wild pigs and boars.
Moles are the master diggers of the natural world. These burrowing mammals use their unproportionally huge hands and claws to make their way underground. If the roots of your cannabis crop happen to be in their path, then they may cause damage. Because root health is essential for nutrient and water uptake, any damage will take its toll on the overall health of plants. Moles also surface occasionally and create mounds of soil known as molehills, these are definitely telltale signs of their presence.
Traps can be placed within mole tunnels in order to remove them from the garden. Live traps should be checked multiple times a day. If you find a mole within a trap remove it and place it far away from your crop. A plant known as caper spurge is also reported to be able to repel moles by exuding a scent into the soil that the animals find unpleasant enough to relocate. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and it also produces latex.
Although cute, rabbits can do considerable damage to a garden. They are diggers and can rip holes into lawns and garden beds. They have the potential to disrupt the soil around the base of your plants, possibly damaging roots and the main stem.
Both fences and netting are good defenses against rabbits. However, if they somehow manage to make it through, traps can be set to remove them later on.
Foxes are medium sized omnivorous mammals that belong to the same family as wolves and jackals. They are often known for their attacks against livestock, but can also cause issues for plant growers, by trampling plants and digging. The presence of foxes is quite easy to detect as they leave behind excrement, as well as potent smelling urine.
Foxes aren’t the easiest animals to defend against. Their agile nature allows them to easily jump fences. Most growers will have to get use to them being around and take preventative measures. Be sure to fill in any deep holes they dig which they may be planning to turn into a den.