A lot of fruit is ripening now. The birds already wiped out my cherry crop, my Red Haven peaches are starting to color, and I’ve been picking blackberries and blueberries for a couple of weeks. So I thought it would be timely to write about keeping birds at bay.
Ann was putting out stuff to attract birds so, since they were in the neighborhood, they decided green cherries would be OK.
Moral: If you have fruit trees, once the fruit begins to mature don’t put out stuff to attract birds. It won’t distract them from your fruit. To the contrary, once they’re in the area they’ll eat anything in the vicinity! After my cherry disaster I took down all the seed and suet and haven’t lost any berries since. But once they find my peaches it’s Katie bar the door!
Assuming you’ve kept your fruit trees under 15 feet, the most effective way to keep birds from destroying your crop is bird netting. Always get the stuff with the small (¾-inch) holes. I found some at Home Depot. It’s better to get big pieces and cut them than to try piecing together small ones. I put a pole up through my trees so I can suspend the netting from it and minimize the amount that touches on the foliage or fruit. With veggies and tomatoes, hoops work great.
Drape the netting over the tree – a telescoping pole helps – and tie the breaks and seams with twist tie wire or tie tape. Bring the netting down close to the ground and gather it around the trunk and tie it securely to the trunk.
This creates sort of a bag that will catch any fruit that falls and will keep out birds that fly up off the ground and rodents that climb up the trunk. This is important because a lot of “bird” damage is caused by mice. Look for places where the netting has been chewed – you may have to set some traps.
Try to keep the netting off the ground as snakes will get tangled in it and die. They may be scary and creepy, but bull snakes are the best mousers and gopher getters around and they’re completely harmless! So don’t kill ’em!
When picking it’s OK to make a hole in the netting as long as you remember to tie it together when you’re done. I use orange flagging tape so I can find the holes and reuse them. Once the fruit is picked remove the netting promptly. Fruit trees often put on a spurt of growth once they are no longer trying to support a bunch of fruit. If the netting is still in place the new growth will get deformed and when you pull the netting off it will damage the new growth.
Speaking of fruit trees, I think a lot of people overlook pomegranates (Punica). Not only is the fruit delicious and bird proof, but it ripens in October after everything except Winesap apples have been picked. Pomegranates are one of the most spectacular small trees you can grow. The flowers are brilliant persimmon red and stand out against the foliage since they bloom after the trees have leafed out. The young fruit is shiny green blushed with copper and red. As it ripens it turns bright red decorating the tree like Christmas ornaments.
Pomegranates can be grown as a big shrub or a multi-trunked or, with pruning, a single-trunk tree that gets about 15 feet tall and wide. Once established they need no water (the fruit is better if you do water every few weeks) and will handle any well drained, even alkaline soils.
“Wonderful” is the most common variety for fruit, but “Ambrosia” has huge, grapefruit-size fruit and “Eversweet” has clear juice and no seeds. There are also some ornamental varieties (Punica granatum) that have lots of flowers and little or no fruit. Many of these stay small enough to grow in containers or use in borders. But what’s a pomegranate with no pomegranates?
About Redden Custom Netting
In 1958, John Redden started Redden Net Co. Ltd to supply commercial fishing gear to the fishing communities of the Pacific Northwest. Now, more than fifty years later, we have an in-house net loft staffed by professional, experienced net builders – and our executive team has more than 100 combined years of experience in every facet of industrial netting. So no matter what industry you’re in, if you need a net, we can build it.
Over the last fifty years, our technology, applications, and materials have become more complex, but our business philosophy remains simple. Treat employees and customers – right. We do. And we’ll do it for you.