Well maybe not forever, but at least long enough to enjoy a bounty of fresh, juicy strawberries.
Anyone who grows strawberries, or any berries for that matter has experienced their own version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. The winged wonders swoop in, peck the berries and leave you with nothing to eat!
We have had excellent success protecting our berries with bird netting like the type in the picture above. We install the netting just after the majority of the berries have formed, but before they have ripened. Bird netting is easy to install and fairly inexpensive. You can find netting for protecting fruit and other vegetation here. The netting in the picture above is the 3/4″ square holed bird netting. We have had very good results with this netting as long as care was taken to keep it from touching the berry plants too much. It has a tendency to get caught on unripe berries and when you lift it to harvest you can accidentally pluck off many young, berries to be. To alleviate this problem we gently lay the netting over the berry patch and tent it up in key areas with short bamboo stakes and sometimes a random Tiki statue too!
Smaller holed netting can work well too, but you want to allow pollinators to gain access to the flowers. Some bird netting may be too fine to allow for enough pollination to occur.
Ideally one would build a structure to contain the berry patch and offer a place to attach the netting to. For example, we always have wanted to build an untreated cedar wood box with a hinged lid. The lid would be like a window, but instead of glass we would use the netting. We have not had the time to design and build this yet, so for now our simple netting technique will work fine. Function over form won the battle this time! The blog, “Garden Jones” has a fantastic example of what we have described above. Thanks to Gardening Jones for sharing!
My eight year old and I set this netting scheme up in 10 minutes. When we harvest we gently unveil the netting from the front end and pick our red, juicy beauties.
Finally, for those who do not have the space, consider getting a nice strawberry pot. These attractive vessels are specially made to allow the plants to do what they like to do (spread). Plus, you can place the pot in a location with optimal growing conditions (they like sun). Netting can be draped over the top like a tent to protect the berries.
Enjoy the tastes of spring!