Protecting the strawberries

I feel for my poor strawberries.  Before we moved to the coast I had repotted extra runners into pots, but at the time I had no reason to do it, I just didn’t want to waste them.   Then when the decision to move came about, aside from all the roller coaster emotions that go with an unexpected move, I was pleased my earlier self had decided to set aside these poor wee plants.  There was the right number to start over again.

poorly strawberries
This is so heartbreaking but these plants were perfect a few weeks ago.

They spent a year in pots too small for them to flourish and they barely survived the waiting period.  And then the day came, and they could stretch their roots into their very own purpose made spot, stretched over a bed and a half – which the beds being 2m x 4m and they kind of did ok.   The irrigation system on the half bed had a problem, which I suspect was me putting a spade through the underground hose, I was meaning to fix it but never quite got round to it.  It still needs fixing.  The irrigation on the other bed was a tad in adequate.  If it was closer to the tap and not up a slight incline then it would be fine, but the pressure just wasn’t enough to support all the drippers.   And there was no net – so that first season there weren’t many strawberries.  But that was ok the plants were recovering.

And this is my culprit. I think there will be some wing clipping for good measure!

They recovered well over the winter and I gave away over 800 runners!  Then I went away for 2 weeks in the spring.  Hubby the Un-Gardener had been asked to water the plants in the greenhouse but not the plants in the garden.  It was spring and spring has spring showers – but not that spring and my poor wee strawberry plants dried out.  I did my best to save them, but they really didn’t recover and come this winter they were scrawny specimens with barely any runners.

gear for a project
It is good to get everything you think you’ll need together before starting a project – although it never is ‘everything’ you’ll need….

So, I took action – dug them all up and potted them up and put them in the greenhouse where I gave them tender loving care.  They bounced back and looked magnificent, so I replanted them back in just one bed.  I fixed the irrigation system so the bed was divided into 2 cycles and this seems to work well.  And then went away for a week.  I came back to find every single healthy flourishing leaf was gone!  I was not impressed but wasn’t sure who my enemy was.

Drop saw
I even got to use power tools in the form of my drop saw. I love my drop saw. It sure beats using a handsaw!

Until I saw an escapee chicken roaming the garden.  It was her – eating my strawberry plants!   So, I hatched a plan.  After a lot of thought I designed a frame with a lift off lid that would keep the birds out and my strawberries safe.   As it is such a large area I needed to make sure it would be light, and I really don’t want to go through the hassle every season, so it needed to be durable enough to last the ages.  I really don’t like netting as birds can get trapped in it, in their attempts to pilfer strawberries.  So, when I found rolls of plastic netting with small holes, my plan began to come together.

Strawberry frame components
Things were going well – all the frame components were complete

I measured out lengths of a light trellis type wood we had lying around and began stapling the plastic netting to it.  Then I ran out of wood and staples, so I headed off to the hardware store for more of everything, so I had what I needed to complete the job.  It was going really well.  It looked sharp and I couldn’t be more pleased with myself.  Although I’m not in a hurry to use the staple gun again.

All the bits and pieces needed to finish the job
All the bits and pieces needed to finish the job

Then it began to feel more like one of my ‘usual projects’.  I bought glue because I wanted to help strength the corners and even waited the required 24 hours curing time.  But it was too wintery damp and the glue didn’t set.  This was the first sign of things not going well.  It wasn’t a disaster, but I was beginning to realise it wouldn’t be a ‘perfect’ project, but at this point I’d be happy with ‘good enough’.   I decided to use screws to strengthen the corners but bought the wrong size.

Creative innovation
One of the creative innovations I was pleased with on this project is all the struts are held down by bamboo poles but the easy on off lids are secured with landscape staples that sit snuggly in deeply drilled holes into the struts.

Once I got the right size I was starting to feel good about things and moved everything over to the strawberry area.   It was at this point I remembered the garden beds – while on the plan say 2m x 4m, they were made by me and were yet another ‘good enough’ project, so my well-crafted components… let’s just say ‘required adjustment’.

Strawberry cage
And done! It isn’t perfect, but it works and I’m not changing a thing … I’m too exhausted from all the effort!

But once the adjustments were made – with a lot of unnecessary words, I was able to stand back and look at a well-protected strawberry cage.  All going well – there will be a bountiful harvest of strawberries this season!

Come again soon – next time I build something, remind me to lower my expectations of my abilities!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

4 thoughts on “Protecting the strawberries

  1. Sarah, it always makes me feel great to see a project finally come together and get finished. I imagine, since you seem to have plenty of wind, that pollination won’t be a problem with the cages on. Strawberries have the ability to self pollinate with wind. I had strawberries for a time but mostly neglect of the gardener, the weeds took over the bed and killed them. I have decided to build a cover similar to yours to protect them and try again in a year or two. I have other projects to complete before devoting time to the strawberry patch.

    Have a great day preparing for the planting and protecting of strawberries.

    Nebraska Dave
    Urban Farmer

    1. The holes in the net are big enough for bees to get through so hopefully they will find them there. All the best with your strawberry cage I hope you end up with a bountiful harvest eventually. : o)

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