Battles with birds

Posted by Laura Grant on January 13, 2009
Posted in Garden

bird-eaten-tomato2It’s hard work keeping one step ahead of the birds in my garden. I had to drop out of the race for the peaches because, despite watching the tree for days for signs of ripe fruit, the mousebirds, go-away birds, white-eyes and bulbuls managed to find them first. Every peach had been pecked almost to the pip, except for one, which had a worm in it.

But I’m not going to surrender as easily with my vegetables.

I planted some seeds – lettuce, spinach, fennel, beetroot, cucumber, carrots and broccoli – and put the seed trays on my gardening table in a little domed construction made with old bits of plastic tubing covered in bird netting.

netting Everything sprouted and all was going well … then, one morning I went to water my seedlings and was horrified to find that my baby lettuces were gone and the skinny little spinach leaves had been chewed on. Some thieving beaked thingy had managed to find a way into the dome.

Even more infuriatingly, my first tomato of the season, which I have been waiting patiently to ripen, got pecked at as soon as the first blush of red appeared.

To stand a chance of getting anything to eat before the birds get to it, I need some serious birdproofing.

I decided the only thing to do is to cover my entire 7m x 2m veg patch in netting.

I went to the nursery and bought 12 metres of hail netting for about R350. I prefer this to the packets of bird netting you can buy because it comes in widths of about 3m and it’s much easier to work with. Everything tends to get tangled up in bird netting, including rings, buttons and small children.

The guy at the nursery said the holes in hail netting are big enough for insect pollinators like bees to get through.

My husband created the construction pictured below with the netting and various bits of wood that were lying in the garage, which I hope is a birdproof Fort Knox. It’s not glamorous, but my veg garden is now completely fenced in.

The war is not yet won, though. Twenty four hours after Fort Knox was built, security was breached by a Cape sparrow. Luckily I managed to chase it out before it did any damage. I see I will have to remain vigilant.



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