I have tried a lot of different ways to scare away birds from the garden. The most effective and cheapest has been hanging old beat up CDs. Sunlight reflects off them and they blow with the wind creating an ever changing scarecrow. After a year or two they fade and need to be replaced, but I have noticed a significant difference in the amount of pecked fruit and missing seeds.
When it comes to fertilizing, I like to lay a heavy layer of compost in the fall over the garden. I find this helps build up the nutrients in the soil over winter while the compost continues to break down. When spring comes I can quickly decide if more dirt is needed by the level of the soil.
I have a large compost pile that sits over the year in the backyard. It is mainly made up of grass clippings, leaves, barbecue ash and leftover raw vegetable matter that I constantly add to. Some people like to use a two-pile system , letting the newer pile decompose at least a year while using the older up first. If you have the space and time this works well too. It usually takes about 10 wheelbarrow loads of compost, but I have a small garden at 4’x20′.
An important side note. Anyone interested in growing garlic needs to plant before the first frost. Check out my earlier post for more information. The weather has been erratic here, as always, but our first frost could come this week, luckily I got it in the ground over the weekend when temperatures were around 90.