May 31, 2012

Our Plan to Protect Our Strawberries From Critters That Still Looks Pretty

We first planted our strawberries last year.  We only planted on a foot, probably about 24 plants.  We didn't harvest much last year because most of the squirrels and birds got to what little harvest we had before we got to it.  Since then our strawberry plants have created many runners and filled every space we let them.  This year we actually could have a decent crop...if the critters don't get to it first.  Since we mostly have June bearing strawberries (about 1/4 of ours are ever bearing) they started to ripen about 2 weeks ago. The critters realized this before we did.  Since then we've been finding about 2-3 half eaten strawberries on our sidewalk a day.


Last fall we came up with our plan to protect our strawberries and even bought our supplies on clearance last fall.  The only bad thing about that is the wire border we bought was coated in PVC.  Which is a bummer because as I posted before we are trying to get obesogens, chemicals that mimic estrogen,  out of our garden.  PVC has Phthalates in it, which is a chemical hormone mimicker.  You can read more about this in my previous posts.  Since we already bought the materials and needed to put it up quickly, we decided to go with it anyways.  I would try to find non PVC coated wire for this project if possible as a precaution.  I would also try this in early spring if possible.  It was difficult putting this in trying not to harm or growing strawberries.
This is what our strawberry patch look like half done
Materials Needed
  • Wire boarder or structure (with no PVC coating see above)
  • thin wire for connecting the boarder (we used the wire in our package to keep the boarder together
  • lots of twist ties
  • enough bird netting to cover your space (make sure to have extra as fudge room)
How We Built our Strawberry Protection
  • Straighten the wire first and than anchor the opposite end that you are working on.
  • Position the wire to go into the dirt and then pressed it down into the soil
  • Attach thin wire to bring the end pieces of the wire boarder together 
  • I then used bird netting to cover the wire boarder.  Use twist ties every 4 sections to tie the netting to the boarder on one side, and then draped it over to see how much is needed and where to cut. 
  • Cut the netting to make sure to have enough in case you judge wrong.
  • Then tie the other side down as pictured below. 
  • If your netting is not long enough you can just over lap it, which I found to actually make harvesting easier 
our bird netting tied to the wire boarder
 I harvested our strawberries for the first time since installing our protection it took me about 2 hrs to harvest (I am harvesting every 3 days) and I harvested over 3 lbs (pictured below).  It did take me longer to harvest, but I think it's worth it since we will have only one large harvest this year and we have already harvested about 5lbs.  In order to harvest I took of the twist ties off one side only and retied it after harvesting, so make sure not to go to crazy twist tying because it will be harder to harvest!  I did notice two half eaten strawberries that were under protection by our bird netting.  Did a bird peck through it? Insects? I don't know.  This might not be a full proof plan (a critter may still get at a few a season) but I think it will at least save our harvest from critters, and is still easy enough to harvest, looks attractive, and an added bonus is the structure helps to support the strawberries.  How do you protect your strawberries?  As always I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas. 
Our Strawberry harvest we are currently getting twice a week
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2 comments:

  1. Wow - so many strawberries! We have a huge bed but it's kind of the first/second year and they haven't gone crazy yet. I had them in a different spot last year and found it was impossible to protect them from squirrels - so I moved them to a garden bed where I could cover the whol thing. I went with tulle - I found the bird netting is hard to see and we kept running into it and snagging it - plus the holes are bigger and I'm sure critters can reach through. The problem with tulle is it's so tiny no pollinators can get it! So I have to leave it open at the top when there are flowers out.
    There's a pic about halfway down in my post here: http://northmidwest.blogspot.com/2012/06/harvest-time.html. I just used lathe, and random pieces of wood. It's a work in progress. =)

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    1. Thanks for sharing Aimee. Good to hear from you. Hope your trip was good. I did find that some birds still got through the netting but just some here and there nothing like before we protected them. I don't think any squirrels got through our protection and I know they were eating them before. I forgot to mention in my post about making sure bees can still pollinate. I know for sure they can with bird netting because I saw them go in and out of it. Are you strawberries June bearing or ever bearing? Most of ours are June which are winding down now, and our ever bearing are just starting to really ripen.

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