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Just wanted to let folks know that Jim Cockcroft, who designed and manufactures Plant Defender cages, has refined the design and now has a website offering online ordering. You may remember my snail and slug battles last spring and how thrilled I was to find something that would help my basil and pepper seedlings survive the slimy onslaught. In fact, the Plant Defender was exactly what I had been hoping someone had invented… and someone had!

As a recycle-minded organic/IPM gardener who much prefers pest barriers over pesticides, I thought about using soda bottles or berry baskets, but soda bottles weren’t well ventilated or wide enough, and berry baskets were too small. The Plant Defender is really clever because it takes the ventilation of a berry basket and combines it with the size needed to cover a plant from seedling to maturity. I left my cages on all season.

I first ordered Plant Defender cages through Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. After losing seedling after seedling to slugs and snails, it was great to finally see my plants mature enough to tolerate snail attacks. Is there anything more heartbreaking than rushing out in the morning to check on your newly planted seedlings only to find that they’re gone? Not just injured, but gone… vaporized. Ok, so there probably are greater heartbreaks, but it still hurts.

Thanks to the Plant Defender, I won the battle and last summer’s veggie and herb garden turned out great. I would like to try the Plant Defender on bean seedlings too. A cage around each bamboo pole of my bean teepee might do the trick. Snails find tender, heart-shaped bean seedlings to be quite delish. I had to place a second seed order with Renee’s after losing nearly all of the first batch of seeds I planted. Some snails even had the nerve to stick around long enough for me to catch them in the act. But did I kill them? Of course not. I simply moved them to a less tasty part of the garden. Moving literally at a snail’s pace, I knew it’d take the little gluttons for…ever to get back to my seedlings. Mwa… ha ha ha haaaaa.

The cages are really easy to use. You simply place them over your seedlings, firming the base against the soil surface. In my blog entries, I mentioned that the copper-painted rim on the old design didn’t seem to be repelling slugs and snails. I solved that problem by adding copper tape around the base of the cage. That worked beautifully, but it was a pricy solution. Jim replaced the copper with a moat and I’m very anxious to try the redesigned Plant Defender in the spring/summer garden. Break out the beer! I’ll try water too and see which works best.

I haven’t had problems with larger varmints like deer, birds, or squirrels, but Plant Defenders are supposed to deter them too. My biggest pests have been snails, slugs and earwigs. Hey, I wonder if the moat deters earwigs…

Additionally, a new removable lid now means you no longer have to cut off the top of the cage once plants reach the top and makes the cages very reusable. So your $3.99 investment (divided over several seasons) pays off considering how many trips back to the nursery you won’t be making.

Oh, and they’re not just for veggies. Use Plant Defenders on your prized ornamentals too. I use them on my Annie’s Annuals splurges.

In addition to the Plant Defender, Garden Products, Etc. also sells The Sprinkler Mate and Row Markers.

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