23) Protecting strawberries from birds (wire netting and birds net)
One tunnel (made of iron wire netting) over 1 row of strawberry plants. This tunnel (length 4.20 meters, 14 ft) consists of 2 parts.
One tunnel (made of wire netting) over 2 rows of strawberry plants. This tunnel (length 4.20 meters, 14 ft) consists of 2 parts.
Many people like strawberries from the own garden. Many birds too.
There are a lot of constructions with “birds nets” to keep the birds away from the strawberries. Before picking, the net must be removed. Or during picking one goes on all fours under the net.
A construction with a birds net is “birds friendly” when the net is tight positioned; there are no openings or spaces where birds can go in. Are the nets placed in a wrong way, birds can get ensnared in the nets.
In this tip my design; a tunnel made of (bent around) wire netting, garden hose and bamboo sticks. Easy to make. And very useful.
In 2014 I made my first design; 1 narrow tunnel over 1 row of strawberry plants. At a “normal” distance between 2 rows (about 60 centimeters (2 ft) or more), you need 2 tunnels for 2 rows.
In 2019 I found out that a distance of about 40 centimeters ( 1 ft 4 inch) works well too. One broad tunnel fits well over 2 rows of strawberry plants. Picking the fruits is no problem. And you can lead the strawberry runners to the “outside”, to the the empty space next to the rows or next to the tunnels.
In A)# a description of a narrow tunnel placed over 1 row of strawberry plants.
In B)# a description of a broad tunnel placed over 2 rows of strawberry plants.
A)# Narrow tunnel made of wire netting, garden hose and bamboo stick (Ω – shape)
Tunnel part with 2 open ends (left side and right side).
Tunnel part with 1 folded end (left side) and 1 open end (right side).
Use a simple tunnel of bended wire netting, garden hose and bamboo stick. Easy to make and it works very well. For a long row of strawberry plants 2 or more “tunnels” of metal wire netting are used. The garden hoses and bamboo sticks keep a tunnel in a (round) shape. Each tunnel is maximal 2.5 meters (8 ft) long. A tunnel longer than 2.5 meters (8 ft) is harder to put on the garden soil, will easily wiggle or its top will sag.
You can make a tunnel part with 2 open ends. Or fold up the wire netting at one end. The openings of the tunnel parts are placed against each other. At the end of the tunnel, the wire netting is folded up or there is a (plastic) plate in the garden soil against the open end. On top of each tunnel there is a bamboo stick (for firmness and a handle to lift the tunnel).
Use (picking fruits):
Right before picking strawberries, one tunnel part is lifted (grasping the bamboo stick) and put down on the soil at an empty part of the garden. The bamboo stick keeps the tunnel in shape during lifting. After picking the fruits, the tunnel is replaced over the row of strawberry plants again.
Another method; Use one hand to lift and to hold high one long edge of the tunnel, while picking strawberries with your other hand. You can put an object under the long edge of the tunnel during picking. Or, when squatting, lay the long edge of the tunnel on your bended leg (knee). After picking, let down this long side of the tunnel until it reaches the soil.
You can use a similar tunnel to protect plants against small birds (sparrows). Use wire netting with smaller mesh.
Below you see photos with short descriptions.
This tunnel part has a folded (closed) end at the left side.
This tunnel part has an open end at the right side. A (plastic corrugated) plate has been put in the soil to close the open end of the tunnel.
In the centre of the row, the tunnels meet. You can put small (bamboo) sticks in the soil to prevent shifting of the tunnels. My experience: without these sticks, the tunnel works well too.
A1) Materials needed:
Iron wire netting, about 1 meter high, mesh size 25 millimeters (1 inch). For each tunnel you need 2.5 to 3.5 meters of netting. Price is about € 2,20 per meter.
Plastic garden hose.
Piece of plastic tube (5/8 inch electricity conduit). Is used to fold the end of the netting.
Bamboo stick (about 1.5 meter, 5 ft).
Lay the iron netting on the ground.
Bend the netting around the conduit tube.
Use pliers to fix the metal short wire ends as shown on the photos above.
Cut a piece of garden hose. Length is about 0.9 meter.
Put the garden hose in the bended wire netting. The hose has about the same diameter as the conduit tube. Push the hose in and meanwhile pull out the conduit tube.
The photo above shows both ends of the garden hose in the netting.
A2a) Rounding and fixing more pieces of garden hose
Bend the netting in a round form.
Bend a “foot” at each end of the netting. So tunnel shape becomes like the letter Ω. This makes the tunnel more rigid.
Put extra pieces of hose through the holes (meshes) of the wire netting.
Put each piece through the meshes so the hose is alternately over or under the wire netting.
Distance between 2 hoses is about 0.6 meter (2 ft).
A2b) Folding (closing) one open end
When folding the wire netting to form a closed end, sharp wire ends can hurt your hands. You better bend over these wire ends. You can use narrow flatnose pliers to do this. On the photo above you see 2 bended wire ends (and 1 sharp wire end).
Here you see at a paper model how you can fold the netting to close an open end. Click on the photo for screen wide view.
Below some photos of the wire netting that is folded in that way.
A tunnel with folded closed end at the right side. On this tunnel the bamboo stick has not yet fixed on top.
A2c) Tunnel with 2 open ends
When making a tunnel with 2 open ends, at each end, wire netting has been bent around conduit tube and a piece of garden hose has been put in it. As described at the beginning of chapter “A2) Making:”.
At this tunnel a bamboo stick has been fixed on top.
A2d) Bamboo stick
The bamboo stick on top makes the tunnel more firm. The stick is also used to lift the tunnel. The stick has been put through some holes (meshes) of the netting.
A3) Putting the tunnel on the garden soil
Put the tunnel(s) over the row of strawberry plants.
Put the tunnels each with one side against each other.
When needed, bend each tunnel more or less in a round shape to let it “fit” over the plants.
At each open end of a tunnel, put a (plastic) plate in the soil, near the end of the tunnel.
A4) Plastic foil on tunnel(s)
During late winter and early spring (February to April) you can lay perforated plastic foil on the tunnels. Under this plastic foil the temperature is higher and the strawberry plants grow faster.
During heavy frosts, you can lay extra plastic foil on it. To protect the flowers of the strawberry plants against freezing.
A5) Rolling up and storage
When there are no more fruits hanging on te plants, the tunnel can be rolled up. So you need little room for storage.
Remove the bamboo stick.
Put each piece of netting upside down.
Flatten the netting and roll up.
The pieces of garden hose remain in the netting during rolling up.
Put a piece of rope around the roll of wire netting. Then it can be transported or stored easily.
Nex year: unroll the wire netting, bend it in a round form and put in bamboo sticks.
B) Broad tunnel made of wire netting, garden hose and bamboo stick (n – shape)
A distance of about 40 centimeters (1 ft 4 inch) between 2 rows of strawberry plants works well too. You can put 1 broad tunnel over 2 rows. Picking the strawberries is no problem. And you can lead the strawberry runners to the “outside”, to the the empty space next to the rows and/or next to the tunnel.
Above, 2 photos of the tunnel that fits well over 2 rows of strawberries.
B1) Properties of this tunnel:
Use the same materials; Iron wire netting, about 1 meter high, mesh size 25 millimeters (1 inch). For each tunnel you need about 2.5 to 3.5 meters of netting. Plastic garden hose. Bamboo sticks.
Use pieces of plastic garden hose with a length of 1 meter (each hose is as long as the width of the iron wire netting).
Put the pieces of garden hose in the wire netting as described at A2).
You can make a tunnel part with 1 open end or a tunnel part with 2 open ends, the same as described at A2).
Put long (thin) bamboo sticks near the long outer ends of the wire netting. These sticks have the same length as the tunnel. When needed shorten these bamboo sticks using a hack saw. When putting in the bamboo stick, the stick is put inwards or outwards each 3 to 5 meshes. See photo above.
Put the tunnel over 2 rows of strawberry plants.
When needed pull or push at the long side of the tunnel to have the tunnel fitting better over 2 rows of plants.
Put thin bamboo sticks in the garden soil (at the outside) against both long sides of the tunnel. You need 4 bamboo sticks per tunnel; 2 sticks at each long side.
Before picking the fruits, lift one long side of one tunnel. During picking, let the long side of the tunnel rest on an big object. Or, when squatting, lay the long edge of the tunnel on your bended leg (knee). After picking, lower the long side of the tunnel and put it against the thin bamboo sticks again.
During lifting the tunnel, you can lay the stolons (connections between mother plant and daughter plants) and runners “outside the tunnel” on the soil. So no runners get trapped in the mesh. After lowering the tunnel, its long side rests on the stolons. That’s no problem.
When picking fruits at the other row, lift the other long side of the tunnel.
Before there are flowers or (green) fruits on the strawberry plants, you can put straw on the garden soil between and around plants. You can do this at dry, warm weather. Straw prevents the soil from drying out too fast. So less watering needed.
B4) Plastic foil on the tunnels
You can put plastic foil on the tunnel as described at A4).
B5) Rolling up and storage
The same tunnel when rolled up. Easy to transport, easy to store. You can roll up 2 tunnel parts in 1 roll.
But you can also remove the long bamboo sticks and roll up the iron wire netting up “in the other way”, similar to A5).
Remark: garden hose (not) needed ?
In my designs, I use pieces of garden hose to keep the tunnel in a round form.
At the left side of each photo you see a tunnel with horizontal bamboo sticks but without pieces of garden hose. I have put 2 short bamboo sticks in the soil (next to the tunnel) to reduce wiggling.
of each photo you see a tunnel with horizontal bamboo sticks but pieces of garden hose. I have put 2 short bamboo sticks in the soil (next to the tunnel) to reduce wiggling. At the right side of each photo there is a tunnel with horizontal bamboo sticks and with pieces of garden hose.
Without the pieces of garden hose, the tunnel wiggles and the top will sag when a light object (empty plastic bucket) is put on it.
A tunnel with pieces of garden hose only sags a little.
On this photo, the pieces of garden hose have been put in the left side tunnel again.
When putting on a light object, the left side tunnel sags a little bit more than the right side tunnel.
Reason; the hose in the left side tunnel is a little bit thinner than the hose in the right side tunnel. See 2 pieces of hose on the photo above. One hose is thicker and/or more rigid than the other one. Both pieces of garden hose keep the tunnel well in shape.
B6) Design made by Ian
Ian made a comment on this post. See below. He has made a construction more or less similar to my design.
Ian has sent me photos and descriptions about his construction. See below.
I used a supermarket basket as a form to shape the mesh (any suitably shaped item would do ). The upturned basket was not quite tall enough so I stood it on a few bricks to add some height.
The mesh came in a 10m roll, 90cm wide. I placed the end of the unrolled, unshaped mesh over the basket, bent it down to shape and then slowly fed the roll of mesh along, shaping it as I went, until it was shaped along its length (this is easiest with two people as the mesh is quite springy)
I did not build feet into the construction – the mesh is a little rigid for this but I believe it would be possible if required
I made the tunnel in approx. 2.5m long sections – just to make it more manageable – and simply placed the tunnel over the strawberries once made. I fitted the sections together by placing one so it slightly overlapped the previous to leave no gaps
I used some old BBQ gratings over each end to close them off but any suitably sized sheet of metal or plastic would do
To peg the tunnel in place I used some galvanised steel pegs – the type normally sold to hold weed blocking ground cover fabric in place
To hold the tunnel sides in place snugly against the end, and also to hold the two parts of the tunnel where they joined, I inserted a couple of the steel pegs through the mesh and into the ground (you can just see one in the picture of the join between the two sections)
One tunnel (made of iron wire netting) over 1 row of strawberry plants. This tunnel (length 4.20 meters, 14 ft) consists of 2 parts. Or…. One tunnel (made of wire netting) over 2 rows of stra…