Monday, January 14, 2013

Pest Control?

courtesy of

I've been pondering pest control in my hoop house.  Last summer, there was quite the invasion of beetles and slugs and assorted horrible things that ate at the bottoms of the jungle. Not that it caused too much of a dent in slowing down the growth, but still, they were there in droves.  I'm a little worried that this summer, all of their offspring will emerge to throw a party and devour  my little baby plants.

I've thought about tucking a chicken or two in there, but the girls aren't the most dependable insect eaters.  They tend to eat their favorites, and ignore all the others.  Besides, that's only effective if they get them all, and no new ones move in later in the summer.  I certainly can't have the girls in there when I'm trying to garden, as they would devour the plants in no time flat.

So I did a little reading, and came across discussions of using quail as pest control in greenhouses.  They eat bugs, not plants, and they don't dig heavily--hence, no uprooting of growing plants.  Plus, they are quiet.  Small, too--only about the size of your fist when fully grown.  My only conundrum is preventing them from scooting out when the doors and side vents are rolled up, to allow for air flow and cooling during hot summer days.  I think some fine gauge hardware cloth stapled across the long sides would work, and maybe the same made into modified screen doors for the doorway openings?

 It sounds like they like heat, so as long as they have shady spots to hang out in and plenty of water, they should do okay on hot sunny summer days.  (I have a plan to lower the temps in there anyway this summer, as 100-plus degrees seems to be a culprit for no tomato fruits.)  As for the winter, it sounds as though they are pretty adaptable.  I can always pop them in a spare rabbit cage and house them in the Big Coop for the winter, if it gets too harsh out in the hoop house. (Although, I have a plan for keeping it a little warmer in there next winter...all these plans, don't you know!)

I think it would be a hoot to collect teeny, tiny quail eggs for breakfast:

 It is like eggs for a fairy feast!  Simply adorable.

If it doesn't work out, well...I hear they are pretty good roasted, too.


  1. Quail! I would never have suspected. I wonder if that will work in Tennessee . . . My father loved pickled hard-boiled quail eggs.

    Regarding tomatoes, it's been my experience that they will not set fruit if the night-time temperatures are above 80 degrees, so it's probably a good idea to lower the summer hoophouse temps.

    For me, black truffle tomato and currant tomatoes tolerated the heat best last summer.

    Good luck!

    1. Black truffle tomato! Now that sounds like an exotic variety...thanks for the ideas, Editor. :-)


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