(On the photos above my old design, with 1 tunnel over 1 row of strawberry plants.)
(On this photo my new design with 1 tunnel over 2 rows of strawberry plants.)
In this tip:
- A)# Design 1: tunnel of wire netting and garden hose
- B)# Design 2: plastic foil with holes over a fence of wire netting
- C)# Design 3: wooden frame with birds net over a fence of wire netting
Many people like strawberries from the own garden. Many birds too.
There are a lot of constructions with 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 is “birds friendly” when the nets are tight positioned. Then 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 three designs are described;
A)# Tunnel made of wire netting and garden hose (2014). Easy to make. A very good design. New design 2019; 1 tunnel fits over 2 rows of plants. Also a very good design.
B)# Plastic foil with holes over a fence of wire netting (2012). Difficult to make.
C)# Wooden frame of birds net over a fence of metal wire netting (2012). Much work and difficult to make.
A)# Design 1: tunnel of wire netting and garden hose
In 2014 I made my first design; 1 tunnel of wire netting over 1 row of strawberry plants. With 2 rows of strawberry plants next to each other, you need 2 tunnels (design 2014) when the distance between the rows is “normal” (about 60 centimeters, 2 ft or more).
In 2019 I found that a row distance of about 40 centimeters (1 ft 4 inch) works well too. This means that 1 tunnel fits over 2 rows of strawberry plants. 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.
In chapter A1) to A5) there is a description of my (old) 2014 design.
In chapter A6) you find photos and tekst about the (new) 2019 design.
In chapter A7) there are photos and descriptions of the design made by Ian. Ian also made a comment to this post, see at the very bottom of this post.
I made a simple construction of bended wire netting and garden hose. 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. Each tunnel is maximal 2.5 meters (8 ft) long. A longer tunnel is harder to put on the garden soil, will easily wiggle or its top will sag. The garden hoses in the tunnel keep a tunnel in a round shape.
The openings of 2 (or more) tunnels are placed against each other. At the other side of the tunnel, the wire netting is folded (to close the tunnel). Or the other side of the tunnel is open and you put a (plastic) plate in the garden soil to close the tunnel at that side. On top of each tunnel there is a bamboo stick.
Right before picking strawberries, one tunnel 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 (big flower pot or so) 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 has a folded (closed) end at the left side.
This tunnel has an open end at the right side. A (plastic corrugated) plate has been put in the soil to close it.
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.
- Plastic garden hose.
- Piece of plastic tube (5/8 inch electricity conduit).
- Bamboo stick (about 1.5 meter, 4 to 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) an 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
A4) Plastic foil on tunnel(s)
During late winter and early spring (February to April) you can lay plastic foil with holes on the tunnels. Under the 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.
A6) Newest design (2019)
When the distance between 2 rows of strawberry plants is about 40 centimeters (1 ft 4 inch), you can put 1 tunnel over the 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.
Above, 2 photos of the tunnel that fits well over 2 rows of strawberries.
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.
- You can use longer pieces of plastic garden hose (length of each hose is 1 meter).
- Put the pieces of garden hose in the wire netting as described at A2).
- You can make a tunnel with 1 open end or a tunnel 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.
- 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 object (big flower pot). 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.
The same tunnel when rolled up. Easy to transport, easy to store. But you can still decide to remove the long bamboo sticks and roll it up “the other way” (similar to the 2014 design tunnel).
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 these photos you see a tunnel with bamboo sticks and without pieces of garden hose. At the right there is a tunnel with bamboo sticks and with pieces of hose.
Without these pieces of garden hose, the tunnel wiggles and the top will sag when a light object (empty plastic bucket) is put on it (or when a bird lands on the tunnel). See left side photo. A tunnel with hoses only sags a little (right side photo).
Here, the pieces of garden hose have been put in the tunnel again.
When putting on a light object, the left side tunnel sags a little bit more than the right side tunnel. See photos above.
Reason; the hose in the left side tunnel is diferent from 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.
A7) 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 1.
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)
B)# Design 2: plastic foil with holes over a fence of wire netting
- Fix each end of the plastic foil at one long wooden lath using flat thumb tacks.
- So you end up with plastic foil with opposite ends fixed to 2 laths.
- Drill 2 holes in each wooden lath next to the plastic foil.
- Use short wooden laths of about 70 centimeters (28 inch) long.
- Saw each wooden lath “pointed” at 1 side; see left side of the photo above.
- Drill a small hole in the other end of each lath (lengthwise direction).
- Hit an iron nail in the small hole,
- Saw (cut) off the head of this nail,
- Use a file to polish the top of the nail in the wooden lath,
- Final figure; see right side of the photo above.
- Put the wooden laths with sharp point downward “at the right positions” in the garden soil. Make the hole in the soil “wider”, so the wooden laths can wiggle a few centimeters (about 1 inch). See top photo above.
- The right positions for these vertical laths (see bottom photo above);
- At the outside of the fence of wire netting,
- A few centimeters (about 1 inch) away from the wire netting fence,
- Distance between 2 vertical laths is equal to the distance between 2 holes in a long wooden lath.
- Put each long wooden lath with foil on 2 vertical laths.
- Put iron pens in the garden soil, about 60 centimeters (2 feet) away from the fence of wire netting. Next to the strawberry plants, outside the fence.
- Put a piece of rope around the headless nail.
- Fix broad rubber band at this rope and around an iron pen in the soil.
- Repeat these steps at all (4) corners to tighten the plastic foil over the plants.
- When needed roll up (or unroll) plastic foil at the long wooden laths.
- The plastic foil is about 1.5 centimeters (0.5 inch) above the top of the fence of metal iron netting .
- The plastic foil is above all strawberry plants.
- Before picking strawberries, remove the ropes and rubber bands at one side.
- Lay the long lath with “loose foil” on the other long lath.
- The nails in the vertical laths fix the 2 long laths when they are on each other.
C)# Design 3: wooden frame with birds net over a fence of wire netting
The other construction consists of a wooden frame with net. Below the description.
C1) My construction
At this construction a frame with net can be removed or placed in an easy way. No birds will get ensnared.
The construction is as follows:
- Wire netting with small holes is put around the strawberry field. Hight of the wire netting is about 37 cm (15 inch). Laths and sticks are put in the soil to support the wire netting and to keep it vertically.
- Over the strawberries there are (2) frames with bird net spread in it. The corners of these frames are put on top of the laths that are put in the soil.
Before picking, one frame is lifted. Its is laid on the other frame.
C2) Frame with birds net:
My strawberrie field is about 1.40 m (4.5 ft) wide and 4.20 m (14 ft) long. I made 2 frames with net.
Photo of a frame with spread net.
At each corner of the frame there is a (white) plate, sawn from a plastic bread board. At the other side, a “triangle lath” is mounted. The top of the vertical lath, put in the soil, is placed in this triangle. In this way the frame can shift horizontally for only 1 inch.
Luxury design 1: On the top of the frame, near ech corner, short “lay on laths” are mounted.
This eases putting the frames on ech other. Due to the laths the nets will not be touched or damaged. Easy, but not necessary.
Luxury design 2: A handle is easy when lifting the frame and when laying it down on the other frame.
C3) Dismounting the frame.
It is easy to dismount the frame with birds net. That’s useful during transport or at storage when not used.
Photo of a frame with spread net.
The birds net has been unfastened at the sides. Then the side laths have been dismounted.
The slanting lath has been removed. The long laths have been put on top of each other. The net has been folded. It is easy to transport these parts.
Rebuilding the frame with net and slanting lath takes about 6 minutes.
C4) Placing the birds protection:
The frames are placed on wooden laths of about 80 cm (32 inch) length. These laths are put vertically into holes in the soil. I use an aluminium tube and a small board to make these holes.
This photo shows the dimensions of a wooden lath, the aluminium tube and the wire netting.
Left photo: The aluminium tube has been placed in the soil. Next step is pushing or hitting the tube into the soil (with a board on top against damage). Then the tube is pulled out of the ground and the earth in the tube is removed by tapping against it. Repeat these steps until the depth of the hole is okay. Then put a lath in the hole.
Right photo: The wire netting is about 1 inch lower than the lath in the soil.
On the photo: At one end of the strawberry field 2 laths are put into the soil. Each lath has been “turned”, the broad side is pointed towards the plants. During placement of the wire netting the lath can get oblique. When the lath is “turned this way” this sloping is minimized.
One frame has been placed on 2 laths. Next step is making 2 more holes in the soil.
The first frame has been placed on 4 laths. When the top of a lath does not “meet” the triangle of the frame, push against the laths during placement. Then press on the ground to fix the laths.
Next step is placing 4 laths for the second frame. Lay the second frame on.
Then remove all frames.
Put the wire netting against the laths around the strawberry field. Put extra (bamboo) sticks in the soil to support the wire netting. To connect 2 pieces of wire netting, put a (bamboo) stick through the holes of the wire netting.
Or connect the pieces of wire netting beforehand as follows:
Use sharp tongs to cut some material from the wire netting. Do this until both ends of the wire netting look like the photo above.
Lay both ends of the wire netting on each other. The first line of hexagonal holes of both ends should “match”.
Use tongs to turn the loose ends around the wires of the wire netting. Do this at all loose ends.
You can make a “space” for the first lath at one end of the wire netting. Use sharp tongs to cut some material from the wire netting. Do this until the end of the wire netting looks like the top photo above. Then use tongs to fix the free metal ends to the netting.
The supporting (bamboo) sticks should not be higher than the top of the wire netting. Otherwise the frames lie on the sticks in stead of the laths.
Lay all frames on. When needed push against the laths during placement. Then press on the ground to fix the laths.
On these photos: Both frames laid on. Or one frame laid on the other frame to be able to pick strawberries.
For many years I use wire netting around my strawberry field against birds. I used to lay a birds net over it and fix it to the wire netting with 50 clothes-pegs. I also took care that no part of the birds net was laying on the soil or hung too low. Before picking I had to remove many clothes-pins. After picking all clothes-pegs were placed back again.
In 2009 I got 9 pieces of thick plastified wire netting. Size was about 1.55 x 0.60 m (5 x 2 ft).
These objects were laid on the wire netting above the stawberry plants.
On this photo of 2011 the yellow rectangle is the strawberry field. You can see the green plastified wire netting on top. The wire netting was rather heavy. I had to put extra laths above the plants to carry the wire netting. During picking I had to lift and carry 9 pieces of plastified wirre netting.
In 2012 I made the construction with wire netting and birds net as described in this post.
- Wire netting. Holes must be that small that birds can not pass.
- 1 (white) polypropene (plastic) cutting board, size about 10 x 14 inch. Thickness about 1/3 to 1/4 inch.
- Wooden laths. width x hight approx 1 x 1.25 inch.
- Nylon net. Big enough to cover the strawberry field.
- Polypropeen (plastic) cord, 20 meters, price about €4,00
C7) How to make (much work……)
Saw small plates from the cutting board;
The photo shows how to cut the board into 9 plates of 4.25 x 3.25 inch. You need 8 plates when making 2 frames.
There are extra gray lines on the photo. The black lines are the ones where to saw.
- Saw the plates from the board using a sharp hacksaw.
- Saw the wooden laths to size. For 1 frame you need 4 laths.
- Connect the laths at the ends with the (white) plates. Use screws.
This photo shows where the holes are drilled in the plate. The screws are turned in the wood, minimal 0,8 inch from the end of the lath. Before turning in screws, drill a small hole in the wood to prevent cracking.
- Mount the “slanting lath”.
This lath makes the frame more strong. Mount the lath to the frame. Then remove this lath agin to spread the net.
- Spread the net (1)
You can spread a (green) polyethene birds net over the frame. Fix it with thumb-tacks. This is a simple and cheap construction. Many thumb-thacks are needed for tout fastening of the net.
Next step is to mount the “slanting lath”. Then fix the “triangle laths”and “lay on laths”. More info about it further in this post.
- Spread the net (2)
You can use a nylon net. A nylon birds net is much stronger than a poly-ethene net. A nylon net has square holes an can be spread better.
Put the frame on two objects. Lay the net over the frame. Pull at the sides of the net to spread it over the frame.
The photos above show one corner of a nylon net. At the top you see a row with “double threads”. At the right side the threads have been cut.
A nylon net must be spread “slanting”, so like squares on a angular point (◊). At the lower photo the net has been spread along a small lath.
Spread in all (four) directions.
The nylon net must be spread to 4 sides. On these photos you see what happens when 2 opposite sides are spread more than the other 2 sides. The squares of the net get “more flat”, loops will shift and the form of the net changes to an hour-glass or wasp-waist.
On the photos above, laths are used for spreading. But you better use a string for spreading, that is much easier.
- Spread the net (3)
Cut a piece of nylon or polypropene (plastic) string. Make at one end of the string a knot and at the other end a loop of about 1.5 cm (5/8 inch). Fasten the loop to the net using a piece of garden tie wire. Do this at the corner of the nylon net, 3 or 4 “squares” from the end and in the first or second row from the side “below”.
Tack the string through about 6 squares as shown on the photo. Each time tack over a knot, under a knot, over a knot etcetera.
- Put a wood-screw in the lath, about 3 cm (1.2 inch) from a (white) plate. There must be room for mounting a “lay on lath”.
- The head of the screw is about 0.5 cm (1/5 inch) above the lath. This part of the screw has a smooth surface (no screw-thread).
- Put the loop of the string and one “square” of the net over the screw.
- You may catch the corner of the net at the corner of the white plate. This is now just for “overview”.
- Put a wood-screw in the lath at the other end of the lath. Do this at the same distance from the (white) plate as the other one.
- My net has squares (meshes) of 28 mm. This is the length of the sides of the square. The diagonal can be calculated or measured. For my net diagonal is 39.6 mm. I use 40 mm, (= 4 cm = 1.57 inch).
- Measure the distance between the 2 wood-screws in one lath (at my frame 180 cm, (5 ft + 11 inch).
- At meshing I follow the diagonals of the squares. Calculate the number of squares (meshes) that the string has to follow. This is during tacking from one wood-screw to the other wood-screw in the same lath. So for my net the number of diagonals (squares) is 45 (180 : 4).
- Tack the string through the right number of squares in the net. Then put the string around the wood-screw. Put one “square” of the net over this screw. Fasten one square of the net to the string using a piece of garden tie wire. Do this at 1 or 2 squares “before the screw”.
- Make a loop in the string.
- Put a wood-screw in the lath, about 30 cm (1 ft) left from the screw at the former photo.
- Fasten an elastic band at the loop.
- Pull the elastic band and put the end of it around the wood-screw.
- This screw is also used to spread the net mote taut by putting the string along it.
All described actions can also be executed while the “lay on laths” are mounted as shown on the photo above. More info about “lay on laths” further in the tip.
Fastening the cord with a loop and a knot (in stead of an elastic band)
Fastening the string with an elastic band is easy and fast. But I don’t know how long the elastic band will sustain in cold, wet or sunny warm weather. When needed the bands can be replaced by new ones.
Instead of an elastic band, you can fasten the string with a loop and a knot. Photo 1 and 2: Put a screw in the lath at about 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inch) from the other screw. Put the string around the screw and through the loop. Photo 3 and 4: Pull the string taut around the screw. Photo 5: Turn the string 1 or 2 times around the screw. Fasten the string with a bow or knot.
In the mean time I know that the light brown elastic (rubber) band as shown on the photos above is worn out within 10 to 15 days in bad weather. So this material is the weakest link.
At the market I bought this white elastic band:
I removed the light brouwn elastic rubber band and replaced it by the white elastic band. I doubled the number of elastic material at each position because the new white band is less “strong” than the old brown one.
On this photo you see 4 elastic “bands” pulling at the string. This new elastic material gives good results.
Now the net has been spread along one lath. Next step is spreading the net along a “cross lath” of the frame.
- Lay the net on the white plate. Pull the net at the right side until mashes are about square. Determine through which “vertical” row of squares a new string must be tacked.
- As shown top right on the photo: put a wood-screw in the “vertical” lath (the cross lath), about 3 cm (1.2 inch) from the (white) plate.
- Put the loop of a new string and one “square”of the net over this screw.
- Do all necessary actions at this lath (putting screws, fastening with garden tie wire, tacking, fastening with elastic band etc).
- Execute these actions at the second cross lath. Finally execute these actions at the last lath, the one that is parellel to the first lath.
- Fix the “slanting lath” on the frame with wood screws.
- Put extra wood screws in each lath. Distance between screws in a lath is about 50 to 60 cm (20 to 24 inch).
- Put the string (plus net) “behind” these screws to “stretch” the net. By doing this the net is spread more taut.
When the net is spread too loose: Remove the string at one lath. Then tack the string through the net 1 or 2 meshes (squares) shifted compared to the old situaton.
- Use sharp scissors to cut away the surplus of the net (= around the outside of the frame).
- Mounting “small triangle laths”.
- A “small triangle laths” is about 11 cm (4.5 inch) long.
- Use a wood screw to fix the triangle lath to the white plate.
- Fasten loose parts of the net to the “triangle lath” using thumb-tack.
- Fix the “lay on laths”.
- A “lay on lath” is about 15 cm long (6 inch).
- Fix each lay on lath next to a white plate at a long lath of the frame.
- Fix a handle.
- Fix a handle on the slanted lath.
- Small lath.
- Use screws to put a small lath on the slanting lath. The net is between these laths. This small lath supports the net. It prevents the net from sagging too much.