Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Defending the Strawberries!

When it comes to the garden plants, my cat isn't the only animal that I need to be worried about. Outside there are raccoons, groundhogs, skunks, opossums, foxes, deer, and many birds that are watching my garden to see what is ripe and ready for the taking! Last year, the critters ate a lot of my garden! The first major front that needs defending this year are the strawberries. It looks like it is going to be a great crop!

We planted these strawberries last year using the hill method. The hill method for strawberries is not mounding up the dirt, or planting on top of small hills. We planted one long row of strawberry plants and then meticulously cut the runners back as the plants sent them out. We didn't let any daughter plants form like you would in a matted row system. So much energy stays in the main plant that the plant grows twice as big as they would with the matted row method. The plants grow to be two feet tall! Since there is only a single row of plants, the plant "looks like" a hill, which is why it is called the hill method.

So now that last year's work is paying off and I have many green strawberries ready to ripen, there is no way I'm going to let the animals have them! Tonight, as it was getting dark I gathered up some scrap wood, a hammer and nails, the roll of flexible fence that I recently bought, and the garden shears (for clipping back the runners) and got to work.

I built a little wood trellis down the center of the strawberry bed.

I then stapled the flexible fence to the landscape timbers on one side and stretched the fencing up over the wood trellis. On the other side I stapled the fence to removable scrap boards. This formed a little temporary A-frame fence.

I attached the fence in three foot sections, overlapping the sections as I went along. The removable boards can be lifted up a section at a time to reach in for harvesting.

I'm pretty sure this will keep the animals out. The only thing left to be concerned with are slugs. I haven't seen any on the strawberries yet but I have found some on the lettuce. I plan to put out saucers of beer to attract the slugs when the berries ripen.

It is crazy how defensive you have to be with food gardening. I am looking into what it would take to put an electric fence around the entire perimeter of the garden. That would take care of everything but the deer. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself with this though. Tonight, I can sleep a little easier knowing that my strawberries can now ripen in peace. I can hardly wait.

I'm off to bed to dream about....Strawberry Shortcake!



Thanks, Marc---this post came just in time to remind me to defend my own strawberries :-) And, your method is much more elegant than mine (putting a milk crate over the two strawberry plants our daughters planted).

Great post!


If I ever become President, you'll be my first pick for Secretary of Strawberry Defense. :)

Nice setup!


I bet this would keep inexperienced landscapers from pulling them out thinking they were weeds too, huh? My strawberries are all gone!


Looks wonderful Mark, thankfully all we have to worry about in Aussie is the slugs, the old margarine container and beer trick fixes them.



I don't get racoons, groundhogs, or grizzly bears here in London, but I do have a problem with American gray squirrels (thank you)and wood pigeons. You have just reminded me I need to cover my strawberries. I might put a fleece over them. My dog Buddy also eats strawberries!


I don't have that problem. I grow white strawberries. The birds and other animals don't notice them...



See, now I would've suggested building a small camouflaged bunker and training Macy it wait inside and attack anything that got near the strawberries.

But your idea would almost certainly work better.

Macy would probably eat half the strawberries and promptly fall asleep in the bunker, leaving the rest to the other garden pests.

Lucky for me the wife's cat isn't interested in plants. Yet.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens

I like your strawberry defense system very much. Good job. I need to build a few protection devices myself.

This year I simply covered the strawberries with floating row covers but if I want to expand my beds, I think I might try something like you've built.


Hey Marc - can you come build one for me? The birds have ravaged our strawberries and it doesn't look like we're going to have any for us to eat this year...

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