Ducks and geese can help keep insects and other harm from your fruit trees.
On your mark, get set, go: April 12 is the frost-free date, and it’s finally time to plant all those seeds that say "plant after all dangers of frost." However, April like March, is often a very wet month making it difficult to find enough time to sow seeds between the rains. Employers, please be extra understanding of certain employees (cough, cough) who might happen to call in sick when the weather’s just right for planting. It can be difficult to plant fast enough, but remember, April showers bring May fruit tree flowers.
If you have a bunch of fruit trees like peaches, plums, pears, etc., you are probably hoping for a bumper crop. But then there’s often trouble with half rotten fruit all over the ground, attracting bees, and spreading rot and bugs back to the trees. Mowing becomes more of a problem, especially up close to the trees. Ducks and geese can help without hurting the trees, assuming you have or can put a nice fence around your crops.
Geese eat grass like goats and sheep, but unlike large grazers with real teeth, geese don’t strip bark and break branches, unless it’s a really small tree. They are happy to help you with that less than perfect fruit that would otherwise be a contamination risk to the good produce.
Ducks are enthusiastic insect hunters. They go for bugs, slugs, grubs, and varieties of pests that don’t rhyme like deer flies, moths, and mosquito larvae. You can let water fowl in your vegetable garden during the off season, but don’t put them in when you have crops because they will stomp and pull up younger plants and eat the blooms off older ones.
Kiddie pools will please the waterfowl, and you can move it around and drain the dirty water near your trees. Adapt a pool for draining with a cut off water hose with a shut-off valve. Drill or melt a hole in the side bottom of the pool barely big enough to jam in the cut end of the hose and add silicone if necessary to prevent leaking. Just open the shut-off valve to drain, but if you let it get too dirty, it will likely clog, and you might have to use buckets. Two cinder blocks can help ducks get in and out.
In April, you will probably find lots of cute little ducklings and goslings for sale. Non-flying varieties are easiest to keep home. Geese are almost always aggressive when defending their nests. Be sure to familiarize yourself with duck and goose care before taking some home.
By Dori Herndon