Last year, I was overjoyed to begin picking a quart or so every few days from the strawberries I’d planted in the potager. They were older plants moved from the prior Cook’s Garden at the farm, so were off to a good start. My joy was soon curtailed, however, when the robins discovered the fruit. Soon every nearly ripe berry had peck holes. Yesterday, finding the first ripe berry, I sprung into action….well, as springy as these 70 year old bones can be these days. (Note: this winter, I’d planned to build elegant berry boxes that I’ve seen on some of your blogs, but I procrastinated. Now I need instant protection, so elegance is set aside for quick.)
Last month, when I visited my friend Christine, I found her cutting armloads of young bamboo canes that were infringing upon her lawn. They’d been planted along a ditch between properties and were now spreading rampantly into her property. (Lesson here: be sure you plant only clumping bamboo, not the running.) Lucky for me, she wanted to be rid of them, so I loaded a huge armload into the back of my truck, thinking they would make terrific pea and bean trellises, and stakes for tall lilies. Voila! Instant support for the berry netting. Simply sticking the poles deeply into the soil along the edges of the boxes, bringing them together in the center and anchoring them to a horizontal supporting pole with a bit of wire, the framework quickly came together.
The tall canes were trimmed to a manageable height. Untangling the netting took longer, but eventually it was spread over the framework and anchored to the bottom with additional small pieces of bamboo cut from the trimmings. You must look closely to see it. Let’s see if the birds can overcome that!
The leftover trimmings became supports for the peas. Although the “Little Marvel” variety I planted first remain fairly short, staking them a bit keeps them from flopping over onto their neighbors, in this case kohlrabi and radishes in the center rows. (Yes, I plant densely.)
Just one other note. Last year I stupidly picked off the bird-pecked berries and threw them over the potager’s fence. I suspect passing raccoons found those, and investigated further until they discovered the source. I won’t be doing that again. Doubt if my “quick and dirty” framework will thwart raccoons, so I still plan to build those elegant berry boxes, but in the meantime, as least my berries are protected from the birds. I hope!