Protecting Your Precious Strawberry Plants

Have you ever experienced the frustration of finding your home strawberry garden raided by hungry birds? Fear not, for there are effective ways to protect your precious plants and ensure a bountiful harvest. In this article, we will explore various methods to keep birds at bay and safeguard your strawberries.

Covers: A Fail-Safe Defense

One fail-safe method to protect your strawberries from winged thieves is to cover them. By employing simple yet effective coverings, you can keep the birds out while still allowing pollinators access to the flowers.

Bird Net

A convenient and inexpensive option is to use a bird net. This net can be thrown over supports in your strawberry patch, such as stakes driven into the soil or jute strung between trellises. Alternatively, you can create a wooden frame for the net. It is essential to ensure that the supports are tall enough to prevent the net from crushing your plants. While not the most aesthetically pleasing solution, it is easy to implement and can be removed when it’s time to harvest.

Berry Cage

Another popular option is the berry cage. With a bit of handiness, you can construct a frame using wood or PVC pipe to fit around your berry patch. Attach bird net or chicken wire to the frame to create a protective enclosure. The berry cage can serve as a decorative or utilitarian addition to your garden, depending on your preference and budget. When the time comes to harvest, the cage can be easily lifted or tilted away. Additionally, since it can be used for other plants when strawberries are safe from birds, the berry cage offers versatility.

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For small strawberry gardens, many gardeners choose to use a cloche to protect each plant individually. You can find inexpensive plastic fly cloches designed for outdoor food protection, purchase garden-specific chicken wire cloches, or even craft your own using common household items. When using a cloche, it is important to remember to hand pollinate or allow access for pollinators during flowering.

Scare Tactics: Keeping Birds at Bay

If you prefer easy access to your strawberry plants for pollination and harvesting, scare tactics can be an effective alternative to covers. Utilizing devices that move and shine, you can deter birds from your garden.

Visual Scare Devices

Employing visual scare devices can prove successful in frightening birds away. Mirrors, strips of aluminum foil, disposable pie pans hung on a string, streamers, or windsocks are popular options. For maximum effectiveness, remember to relocate or rotate the visual scare devices frequently to keep the birds on guard.

Audible Scare Devices

Noisemakers can also be highly effective in deterring birds. Wind chimes add a charming touch to any garden and come in various price ranges. Another option is playing a recording of the distress call or warning call of the specific bird species you want to scare away. Randomly playing these calls throughout the day can keep birds at a distance.

Trick the Birds: Deception for Protection

Tricking birds instead of scaring or blocking them provides a clever approach that allows them to still serve a purpose in your garden while protecting your strawberries.

Fake Strawberry Rocks

Creating fake strawberries is a popular, simple, and visually appealing method. By painting fruit-sized rocks strawberry-red and adding yellow or brown seeds with a toothpick or fine brush, you can mimic the appearance of ripe strawberries. Applying a coat of craft varnish will protect the fake strawberries from weather damage. Placing these imitations around your plants early in the growing season can lead birds to associate strawberries with something they cannot consume. As a result, they will eventually give up on trying to eat the real fruit, leaving your strawberries untouched.

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The Power of Color

Planting another variety of strawberries that bear fruit of a different color can confuse many birds. White strawberries, in particular, are often unfamiliar to birds, causing them to overlook these fruits as a food source. Although this trick may lose its effectiveness over time if the birds become adventurous, it can provide temporary relief.

Blooming White Flowers

White flowers can serve as a natural deterrent for birds. Many bird species perceive the color white as a warning and tend to avoid it. Intercropping white flowers that bloom while the strawberries ripen can be a strategic approach. White Lupine, for example, not only repels pests but also attracts pollinators. Cilantro produces small white flowers during the same period strawberries set fruit, benefiting both your plants and your kitchen. Additionally, white poppies, which thrive in well-draining soil like strawberries, provide an excellent opportunity to harvest seeds for recipes like strawberry-poppy-seed salad dressing.

Anti-landing Gear

This trick involves strategically placing sticks, twigs, or plastic forks upright in the soil around your plants. By spacing them closely together, you create an uncomfortable landing space for birds while still allowing easy access for harvesting.

Protecting your strawberries from birds may require a combination of methods, depending on the size of your garden and the persistence of the winged intruders. Experiment with different tactics and find the ones that work best for you. Remember, it’s crucial to strike a balance between protecting your crops and preserving the essential role birds play in your garden ecosystem. Happy gardening!

Ames Farm Center

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