Bird proofing the strawberry patch

As I was swanning around in London when the mother of all storms bashed Hinckley and surrounding areas to bits, I was rather sceptical of the ‘hailstones the size of golf balls’ story on my return home. Thinking that more than a touch of exaggeration was in force, I wandered off down the garden to see the damage for myself. I was greeted with the sight of cabbages that could double as colanders, and holes smashed through the roof of the chicken coop. According to form, we got off lightly though. I know of others who need new conservatory panels, lost their entire greenhouses, and could now play steel drums on the roof of their cars.

This weekend, a few holey cabbages were the least of my worries though. A short while back, I approached the strawberry bed, to find a young blackbird blatantly chomping his way through my meagre crop. When he spotted me, he didn’t even have the good grace to look guilty. Casually having one last munch, he took flight, and I’m certain I heard him laughing as he flew away.

“I don’t think so, sunshine!”, I thought. With not a moment (or indeed a strawberry) to lose, I flashed into the shed and came out brandishing a length of netting. Draping it across the raised bed, I allowed myself a moment of smugness, knowing I’d stopped his little game.

Not so. A couple of days later, he’d actually got under the netting, and was merrily helping himself to seconds. On spotting me, he flapped around for a bit, then pulled himself together and escaped though a gap near the edge which was evidently his route in and out.

By this time I was more than a little annoyed. I deployed the help of my youngest at the weekend, and our mission was to bird-proof the patch. Reusing some slats from a single bed, we hammered one into each corner of the raised bed, and put a nail at the top of each to snag the netting on to. The netting went on, and we stretched it down all the sides, securing it to a couple of strategic nails around the base of the bed. We soon had a structure that could rival Fort Knox.

Job done, we were pleased with our handiwork, and so far so good, our visitor hasn’t been back.

Spotting the raspberries are beginning to ripen, we decided to thwart the efforts of our local birds, and draped a load of netting over them. The blackcurrant bush got some too, as we were well into the swing of things, and were not leaving anything to chance.

The garden now looks like we have shares in ‘Nets-R-Us’ but it’s a small price to pay if we manage to get a bowl of strawberries anytime this summer…

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