Last year my grape vines produced fruit for the first time. I knew the birds would go after them, but I decided to hold off on netting them until I saw signs of munching. They just seemed too pretty to net. Colossally bad call on my part. I literally went to bed one night with bunches and bunches of grapes and woke up the next morning to none. My vines were only a few days past bloom, and each grape was no bigger than a pea, so I can’t imagine they even tasted good. Rude birds!
Now, we’re on to another season and a new batch of grapes, and this time I’m not wasting any time protecting them. Experts say you don’t need to net your grapes until they start to change color, but that’s not what my own experience tells me. When I went out yesterday and saw that my grapes were about the same size that they were last year when they got gobbled up, I immediately pulled out the bird netting and went to work.
We got one arbor netted and the other will be done by the end of today. Take that you freeloading birds!
Netting Fruit Trees, Bushes and Vines
If you have fruit trees, bushes or vines that the birds like to snack on, netting them is a simple, low-cost way to protect your harvest. Bird netting is available in a wide array of sizes, so you can buy as much or as little as you need for the job.
To net fruit trees or bushes, simply place a net over the top of the tree/bush; pull it taut; and secure the tail end with clothespins, twine or wire. Make sure the netting isn’t laying directly against the fruit, or the birds will still be able to get to it. A teepee made of bamboo that expands beyond the height of the tree/bush is a simple remedy for this problem.
If you don’t want to add netting to your yearly garden chore list, consider building permanent frames around your trees/bushes with a door that you can enter for harvesting.
To net low-growing vines (like strawberries), build a hoop out of PVC or a similar material, and affix the netting to the frame. If you’re netting a long bed, make several smaller hoop frames, so they’ll be light-weight and easy to handle when you need to harvest your fruit.
To net climbing vines (like grapes), wrap the netting all the way around the structure that they’re growing on. To make the job easier, wrap the netting around a 1×4 board before you start. This will allow you to manipulate the netting in much the same way that you would a roll of floral wire.