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Garden birds, squirrels and fruit crops
Sometimes wildlife crosses the line between welcome resident and unwanted nuisance. Perhaps it’s my own fault for providing temptation, but when you grow your own fruit there’s always something tempting on offer.
Blackbirds certainly have an instinct for detecting fruit almost before it’s fully ripe. Strawberries are a favourite, possibly because they’re at ground level and easy to find, but even when grown in pots and ‘hidden’ in the greenhouse they soon discovered, and prove irresistible to birds unless protected.
Of course there’s an answer, and that’s what fruit cages were invented for, but when you integrate soft fruits around the garden to make best use of space these aren’t a viable solution. Large pieces of netting play a part, thrown over fruit to provide a bird barrier, but even these take time to put in place. They also make picking ripe fruit quite a challenge too.
But it’s not just birds that love my fruit. For the past two years I’ve grown quite a promising crop of peaches. Blossom looked perfect, carefully pollinated by hand using a brush to ensure good fruit set. Once early frosts were over I’d inspect my peach tree to count the developing fruits, looking forward to summer harvests.
And then the mystery begins. One day the fruit is there, but the next it’s gone. Towards the end of June something takes a fancy to my peaches, and steals the lot, breaking a few shoots in the process. Now I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I think they were stolen by squirrels. Has anyone else experienced ‘The Case of the Disappearing Fruit’?
My gardening resolution for 2012 is to actually eat one of my own peaches, so I need to think of a way to build some sort of netting screen around my small peach tree. This is easier said than done, as previous efforts trying to protect cherries from birds on an even larger tree proved.
I could just be philosophical, and accept that my home-grown fruit went to a good cause, but there are limits to my generosity.
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