- Author: Donna J. Seslar
Once my husband and I had gotten the upper hand on preventing spotted-wing fruit flies from ruining our delicious Lapin cherries, we still had the problem of birds chowing down on them. In previous years, we had covered the tree with bird netting, but needless to say this was always a difficult procedure – both putting it up and taking it down. The bigger negative was that more than one bird got caught in the net…a traumatic experience for all concerned!
So one day while driving through the wine country and observing the balloon-like oddities suspended above the rows of grapes, inspiration struck! The balls had “evil eyes” printed on them and they were moving in the breeze. Putting two and two together: I had previously been advised by Gary Bogue (retired wildlife columnist for the Contra Costa Times) that hanging a yellow smiley-face balloon in the almond tree would keep squirrels at bay. The problem was that the balloons, though seemingly effective for a time, eventually ran out of gas, faded and got stuck in the tree.
We came up with our own solution: a volleyball which we painted with an “evil eye” on each side. It was suspended just above the tree top via a PVC pipe and Voilà! Out of 60 pounds of cherries, about a dozen of them had bird pecks , and these came from the lower branches where I suppose the eye wasn’t visible.
Later in the summer, we hung the volleyball eye above our almond tree and it seemed to keep the squirrel away as well. Our squirrel-crazed bird dogs alerted us every time it hit our neighbors’ almond tree…maybe that had something to do with it too.
- Author: Kathy Thomas-Rico
Back in February, I wrote a blog that was a bit of a love letter to our three hens. Today we planted our tomatoes, so the love story has, sadly, come to a screeching halt.
This year’s tomatoes went into one of two raised beds, which have sat fallow for two years. I have always had to create a “dome of protection” with bird netting over the raised beds, as they abut a large open space where coveys of hungry quail lurk. And now we have to worry about our hens raiding the garden boxes, too.
Bird netting is hateful stuff. It catches on everything — branches, leaves, earrings, eyelashes. We wanted to make our lives easier, when it comes to bird netting, by building semi-permanent frames onto which we could wrap netting. I found a thorough online description for building PVC frames, and the construction began.
Our two raised beds are 4 feet by 10 feet. We started out making one rectangular frame to fit over the top of the beds. This was unwieldy to build, and would be too heavy and wobbly to move out of the way for harvesting and such. My husband decided to construct two frames, 4 feet by 5 feet each, and they went together much more easily. The beauty of two frames is they’re light. I can raise one half of the cover to harvest, add mulch or pull weeds. Knowing how tall indeterminate tomatoes can become, we plan to make two more frames that will stand taller. For now, the 3-foot height is fine.
Our hens are a bit miffed. They saw us put in the tomato seedlings this morning, and rushed over to gobble up those sweet new leaves. After much shooing and distracting with fresh, wormy piles of compost thrown their way, my husband and I were able to cover our new plants with our new frames. I’ll keep you posted on how well they work.