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mr. clean

The Protection Thread

353 posts in this topic

Protection Options

[Note: Much of this information is available elsewhere on UK420 or known to some and not others, but it tends to be scattered around the forums. Some information is contained in various people's Grow Diaries, some is in the Guerrilla Farming section, some is in the D.I.Y. section, some is in Problem Solving, some is contained in the FAQ. This is an attempt to summarise the major options in one place. If in doubt, use the Search function.]

There are a number of animals which can cause problems to outdoor-growing plants, and a number of methods for dealing with them.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails will gladly feed on any young, soft plant, so your seedlings and freshly planted out crops are a feast waiting to happen. There are a number of ways to prevent slug and snail attacks, but they loosely fall into the categories of 'barrier' and 'distraction'.

'Barriers' work by placing an obstacle of some kind between the slug and the plant.

One of the most effective types used by growers on the forums has been the Copper Tape method. When a slug or snail slides over a copper surface, the motion of the animal combines with the liquid nature of the slime and the ions in the copper surface to induce an electro-chemical reaction which the slug finds very uncomfortable. Copper can be acquired from numerous sources, although the most effective sort is tape which is purpose-made as a slug-deterrent, and can be bought from good garden centres or online. This is one of the most popular and effective methods.

Other substances can be used as a barrier which also rely on the property of inducing discomfort in the attacker.

Crushed gravel can be spread around the plant in a ring, forming a surface the slug finds it uncomfortable to cross. Only certain types of gravel work, namely those consisting of fairly small, sharp particles. Gardenadvice.co.uk recommends using horticultural grit of between 4mm and 8mm in size; they also claim that vermiculite can be used similarly with up to 90% effectiveness.

In the same vein, some claim that sharp sand can also be used, as can crushed-up egg shells, although some doubt the effectiveness of doing this. It has been suggested that loft insulation can be used for a similar purpose, although it should be stressed that this is about as environmentally-unfriendly as it is possible to get, as the fibres in insulation do not degrade; whether it is any more effective than other measures is also open to debate.

Some have claimed to have great success using oats to deter slugs and snails, although this has the potential side effect of luring other wildlife (namely birds) who then feed on the oats. Dry bark is effective to the extent that slugs find its dehydrating nature hard to move against, but it has the downside of losing its effectiveness in the wet. Diatomaceous earth can also be used for a similar purpose, but its effectiveness is disputed and it is more expensive than other options.

smeagol offers another barrier suggestion:

Another option is to cut a 4-5inch piece of waste pipe. Cut one end around the circumference with some sharp wire cutters so that it is jagged. Carefully put this over the plant so you end up with the jagged side up. This is more or less 100% successfull with slugs and snails.

It should be noted that the barriers mentioned so far are a deterrent in the same way that home security is a deterrent. By making your home more secure, you don't really make it impervious to break-ins - something which is pretty-much impossible - but you do make the hassle of breaking-in worth less of a burglar's time than other available options. The same applies to deterrents. Given a choice between struggling to deal with an unpleasant barrier and eating something else, the majority of slugs and snails will go elsewhere. This doesn't mean that it's completely impossible for a slug or snail to breach the barrier, but it does greatly lessen the likelihood of it happening.

'Distraction' techniques rely on providing a more attractive option to the slug, rather than making the seedlings less attractive.

The Beer Trap is a common distraction that relies on the gastropods' love of sugar and alcohol. A small container, such as a jam jar, is sunk into the ground and filled with a little beer (anywhere from a centimetre upwards). Containers placed on their side can be used to protect against rain. Slugs will be attracted to the beer trap and drown in it. It has some downsides in that: it can be susceptible to being rained-on; you must make sure that the beer content is kept topped-up from time to time; and you must make sure that the trap doesn't fill up with slugs, but the technique certainly works.

A more controversial method is that of using Slug Pellets. Slug pellets are made of a tasty cereal which has a slug poison - usually metaldehyde or, less frequently, methiocarb - buried inside it. They are usually scattered, reasonably scarcely, around the plants. Slugs will be attracted to the cereal, eat the pellets, and die from poisoning. Simple, eh? Not so, say the environmentally-oriented, who claim that the cereal bait attracts and then harms other animals - dogs, cats, birds, bugs etc. Pellet manufacturers naturally claim that very little damage is done. Whichever is true, metaldehyde pellets are overwhelmingly preferable as they are less toxic without being less effective.

There are a couple of issues specific to guerrilla growing which might weigh-in against slug pellets, however. The first is that some claim that, over time, the pellets decompose, get washed into the soil and affect the plants in a negative manner, leading to less pleasant smoke. The second is that, in order to dissuade birds and other creatures from eating the pellets, they are usually dyed a strikingly unnatural colour, such as fluoroescent blue. One pellet falling in the wrong place may therefore have the slight potential to blow an entire grow, so be careful.

Lastly, in barrier terms, there are Nematodes. Nematodes are a type of tiny worm which live in the soil and prey on slugs. They are available from garden centres. You buy them as a powder which has to be made into a solution and then watered into the ground around the plants. Nematodes are supposedly harmless to the plants, humans and other animals. They do need refreshing every so often, and doubts have been expressed as to their suitability for cannabis protection.

A more thorough consideration of the issues surrounding slugs as horticultural pests and the various means of dealing with them can be found at Cardiff University's School of Bioscience's Slug Control Page.

Rabbits and herbivorous mammals

Rabbits are natural herbivores and can chew through a crop in a very short time. Furthermore, things like gravel, copper tape and beer traps don't even break their stride, let alone stop them.

Fortunately, there is an environmentally-friendly way of keeping their bucked-teeth away from your hard-grown weed. Garden centres and DIY stores sell rolls of Chicken Wire or Rabbit mesh. This is simply a type of mesh fencing designed to keep curious fauna away from growing crops.

Your plants will need to be surrounded by a tubular cage of fencing at least a foot (12" / 30cm) in diameter and one-and-a-half to two feet (18"-24" | 45cm-61cm) high. A good rough way to do this is to use lengths of fence approximately four to five feet in length, 20" in height, then loop them round and fasten them back on themselves using plastic zip ties (also available from DIY stores and garden centres). These tubes can then be folded up for transportation to the grow sites. More detail can be found in BushBandicoot's article in the September 2004 newsletter.

The mesh used should be sturdy enough to take a few rabbit entry attempts, but sparse enough to let light through and facilitate growth. The mesh is not there to protect against all possible assaults, but simply to protect the plant until it is old and large enough to take care of itself (big, thick, woody stems etc.). A good-sized mesh has holes between 3/4 of an inch and about an inch and a half across. Some meshes have hexagonal holes, some have square ones. Good examples of sturdy cages can be found in iamafunkimunki's 2007 grow diary.

Bare metal mesh fencing can be seen from a surprisingly large distance away if the sun is at the right angle (especially if the mesh is quite thick) and may well draw suspicion depending upon the grow location. Mesh is available in both brown and green plastic, and in a form where the bare metal wire is covered with a mid-to-dark-green plastic coating. These types of mesh aren't any more expensive than the bare metal kind, and blend into the background nicely, being invisible at even relatively close distances. Try and buy this kind of mesh if you can, although any mesh is better than none.

The cages must be anchored to the ground to prevent them being pushed or blown over. There are two usual methods for doing this: one is to use stakes (e.g. garden cane or sticks); the other method is to use tent pegs (use at least three per cage at equally spaced distances; so if you're using three, anchor at 12 o'clock, 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock).

It is important to remember that cages can help other animals as well as hinder rabbits. If you're using slug protection, you will probably need to protect the cage as well as the plant, as slugs are quite capable of climbing the cages and then getting on to the leaves, thus dodging any protection which might only be around the plant's stem.

Deer

Deer constitute a much greater hazard than might be thought; many crops have been lost to them, but there are a number of deterrents available to the guerrilla gardener.

Unlike domesticated or agricultural animals, deer (quite rightly) don't trust the presence of humans and attempt to keep as large a distance as possible between themselves and any possible contact. This can be used against them.

The scent of human urine is very off-putting to deer and they will try to avoid it as it is a sign of human presence. Before going to your grow site, drink larger-than-usual quantities of water and give the area a good sprinkling while you are there. Avoid urinating directly on the plants themselves. Some people fill up a two-litre bottle and take that with them. Urine scent will evaporate over time and can be washed away by rain so levels will have to be maintained periodically across a grow.

Extrapolating on the previous idea is the idea that deer will avoid other large predators as well as humans. Some zoos sell big cat excrement (that's crap, to you and me) as a fertilizer / natural manure. If you're lucky enough to live near a zoo, big cat crap is as good a deer deterrent as you could want, although, like urine, it might need topping-up every so often. There is also a cat deterrent on the market called "Silent Roar", which is a mixture of lion excrement and other chemicals; this is also apparently effective against deer, but also requires occasional topping-up.

Any unnatural or humanistic scent will make deer think twice. Some growers use soap to provide that scent. If using soap, you should be careful to keep it away from the plants themselves, as it could prove toxic if it soaks into the ground near the root system. Some growers hang soap from stakes or trees in the vicinity. If using soap, make sure it's as smelly as possible, but also try and pick as natural a colour as possible; flouroescent pink can be noticed from quite some distance away.

Some growers use fishing line strung from trees at chest height to deter deer. The idea is that the deer walk up against the line and register it as an unnatural pressure (the line being largely invisible) and thus decide to keep away. Fishing line can draw attention as well as deter deer, so use this method only when the circumstances call for it.

Sheep, Cows and Horses

Move the grow site. Seriously. There is no effective deterrent against farm animals except for avoidance. These animals do not fear humans, are herbivorous, are strong, are protected by property law (that's a shorthand for saying that it's illegal for you to kill them, aside from it being morally wrong anyway) and are voracious eaters. Move the grow or think again.

Insects

You're growing outdoors. You're not going to avoid insects. There are various methods for dealing with insect pests which are outlined in the Pest Control section of the Grow FAQ, but generally, unless it becomes a specific and persistent problem, it's better to accept them as a fact of life. Many of the repellents, such as those based on Neem oil, are impractical for the guerrilla gardener as they are based on the premise of "regular application", with "regular" meaning "weekly, or even more frequently", thus running counter to the stealth philosophy.

As a general bug repellent, Nitramkram offers this solution:

Three large cloves of crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

One teaspoon of liquid soap

One litre of water

Combine the garlic and vegetable oil and leave to soak overnight. Strain and add to the litre of water along with the liquid soap. Spray regularly. Garlic is known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, but it is its insect repellent qualities that most gardeners like.

Other Options

Aside from all the solutions above, which have intentionally been geared towards general-purpose usage (preferably without detrimentally affecting the grow spot), your local garden centre will doubtless have plenty of shiny products it will only be too keen to sell you. Some may be brilliant, some may not, but think carefully about using them before you do. Remember, we're in the stealth business. Anything which requires regular application requiring frequent grow visits, or is geared towards non-consumable foliage (e.g. roses) may not be the best stuff to be putting on your MJ.

Thanks to all the people who've discussed these issues at length in the forums over the years.

Edited by Bish
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This started out as an email to a fellow guerrilla as to various protection strategies. It reached such a point that I realised that, with a few minor tweaks, it might help other people. There's nothing new or particularly special in here - natural selection dictates that what works is kept and what isn't passes from use - but we get a number of questions and this missive has many (but not necessarily all) of the issues in one place which would have been useful to any number of us when starting.

If anyone has any extra ideas, post below. The more the merrier.

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Another possible method for discouraging herbivores is to plant other vegetation around a grow site such as Bramble,Gorse or other thorny wild plants to provide a barrier that they(and humans) would think twice about crossing.

Edited by Hughie Green
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i've noticed my power plant is getting munched by rabbits i think or some other vermin. so i've made it like a porcupine using sharp 18 inch sticks inserted at 45 degrees into the soil all the way round sloping upwards and away from the plant creating a 6 inch wide band of pungee spikes and some 4 inch vertical ones around the base of the plant to stop them leaping my make shift fence. seems to work quite well. i'll post a picture when i visit again

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Im gonna buy one of these next year and stick it at a safe guerilla site. Should take care of any problems apart from the eye in the sky.

How much are they typically, Archangel? You'd probably only have room for one or two plants at most, and you'd have to top them, I reckon. You'd also have to be concerned about humidity and maybe even mould. It could be made to work, though.

Great ideas, Hughie Green and iamafunkimunki. Pungee sticks are an intuitive solution. I guess if you had the time to prepare, and it was the right sort of ground, you could build solid medium-to-low fences and plant various forms of foliage to hide them, too.

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Hi Mr C...as you mentioned my suggestion on here and i just happen to have finished me practise attempt in me flat i thought i would post some pics .. 1st is the 6in waste pipe that i have nipped all around one circumfrence with a pair of steel fixers nips..2nd is pipe with an inverted strip of masking(slugs'n'snails hate that sticky stuff)...and 3rd is with the mesh around...its 15mm mesh so that will take snails outta the equation...i know there are no deer so thats one ting i don't have to worry bout

post-17320-1178132847_thumb.jpg

post-17320-1178132857_thumb.jpg

do you peeps tink i've got the circumfrence to large?

post-17320-1178132871_thumb.jpg

hope this is of assistance... :P

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no mate. thats quality :yahoo:

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Awesome stuff, smeagol, sir.

I might change my protection now. The pipe idea is excellent as it gives you a nice surface on which to put copper and adhesive tape inside the mesh. It's a veritable Fort Knox of an option. :smoke:

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Awesome stuff, smeagol, sir.

I might change my protection now. The pipe idea is excellent as it gives you a nice surface on which to put copper and adhesive tape inside the mesh. It's a veritable Fort Knox of an option. :P

I think Smeagol should patent this idea as i can see it taking off amongst the guerrilla community. Nice one Smeag, and thanks to Mr Clean for putting the thread up in the first place and getting ppl thinking. Nice one mate

Edited by barefoot master

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I think Smeagol should patent this idea as i can see it taking off amongst the guerrilla community. Nice one Smeag, and thanks to Mr Clean for putting the thread up in the first place and getting ppl thinking. Nice one mate

Damn ... patent ... never thought boput that .. :unsure: ... glad you like it and tanx for the replies .. agree that this should be pinned .. i've already used it ( as a source for info) to find the garlic spray recipe (girlfriends got aphids on her ferns !!) ...

So yea great call Mr C ...

:no:

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Damn ... patent ... never thought boput that .. :puke: ... glad you like it and tanx for the replies .. agree that this should be pinned .. i've already used it ( as a source for info) to find the garlic spray recipe (girlfriends got aphids on her ferns !!) ...

So yea great call Mr C ...

:yinyang:

Just to let y'all know that LIDL have copper slug tape 18m for £7.99 - and also - I love the pipe idea - I had a vision of sticking drawing pins or even better - copper tacks - in a defensive spiky ring around the top of the pipe..:)

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Great thread mr. clean although I don't do guerilla what doubts do you have about the nematodes, is it just the refreshing the amount of nematodes or is there something else.

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Just to let y'all know that LIDL have copper slug tape 18m for £7.99 - and also - I love the pipe idea - I had a vision of sticking drawing pins or even better - copper tacks - in a defensive spiky ring around the top of the pipe..:rofl:

Good call, utokia. That's pretty cheap.

Great thread mr. clean although I don't do guerilla what doubts do you have about the nematodes, is it just the refreshing the amount of nematodes or is there something else.

IIRC the refreshing of nematodes has to take place fairly infrequently (6 weeks?), so that isn't such a major issue. The main objections I'd heard with regard to nematodes was that they are most effective in a way which doesn't initially help MJ growers. The nematodes enter the slug's body and take up to three or four days to kill it. This might be a good strategy for protecting an entire bed of plants and clearing it out in the medium-to-long term, but if you've got nematode-impregnated ground surrounding a precious seedling, the nematodes won't actually save the seedling in the short term. They'll infect the slug, but won't have enough of an impact to stop the seedling getting chomped first. It might be a good strategy if combined with other methods, or might be better used with larger plants.

I should stress that I've never used them, so this is all hearsay.

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One strategy not yet mentioned for protection against deer is to locate close to motorway intersections, or at least a busy trunk road. Seems that around 10,000 a year die on Britains roads, if they are on their way to munch on my budding beauties well they deserve all they get. Increased CO2 levels too.

Edited by Midnite Rambler
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One strategy not yet mentioned for protection against deer is to locate close to motorway intersections, or at least a busy trunk road. Seems that around 10,000 a year die on Britains roads, if they are on their way to munch on my budding beauties well they deserve all they get. Increased CO2 levels too.

God yeah - like spotting mushrooms (you can't find any - then you spot one and go into shroom zone), I have been noticing there are huge expanses of unused land with plenty of cover running next to motorways/a-roads etc.. perfect for stealth grows (no pedestrians!) - i didn't think about the deer thing tho..

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