Anyone who has ever grown strawberries or other berries particularly loved by our feathered friends has probably shared in the same feeling of frustration and disappointment. To wait for what seems like forever for that first fruit to ripen to a gorgeous colour, salivating at the thought of its juicy sweetness, only to find that it has been eaten by something before we had the chance to harvest it ourselves.
Birds are great in the garden for a number of reasons. Not only can they be pretty and entertaining to look at, also they help get rid of certain pests. For example they may eat slugs which may also be responsible for destroying certain garden crops. But of course, we feel envious and spiteful when instead of ridding the lettuce of slugs, the birds decide to raid our soft fruit plants and shrubs.
We may even consider putting up fruit cages and netting to avoid such things from happening and I’m sure this is a quite effective way of protecting your allotment crops. But honestly, who wants to have a backyard covered in unsightly netting. Plus, putting up netting wastes precious time and energy we would rather spend elsewhere. So what to do?
Well, it seems that birds are mainly attracted to some of our favourite soft fruits like Strawberries and Raspberries because of their colour!
So the easiest way of birdproofing your strawberry plants is by growing different colours of strawberries.
There are some very nice varieties available that produce yellow or white fruit which birds will simply ignore. These may not be as attractive to look at as “proper” red ones, once you get over their “unripe” appearance, the flavour might surprise you.
White Soul / White Delight – Fragaria Vesca (alpine strawberry)
Yellow Alpine / Yellow Wonder – Fragaria Vesca (alpine strawberry)
Both of these are fairly similar looking plants, compact yet abundant as alpine strawberries should be. And the fruit is small and white or yellow respectively and full of sweetness and flavour!
There are also some conventional type strawberries to choose from:
Pineberry – Fragaria x ananassa (Sold by a lot of names incl. “Anablanca” or “White dream”
Supposedly these taste of pineapple rather than strawberry but I can’t comment because I haven’t tried them. They seem to be extremely expensive to buy though!
Birdproof Raspberry tips:
So once you’ve sorted out your strawberries, you’re curious about raspberries as well?
Once again, you can opt for a yellow fruiting variety such as “Allgold” or I’ve recently come across one called “Twotimer Sugana Yellow”.
And what if you’ve got a bit raspberry patch already and are not interested in changing all the canes you ask? Well instead of going all neat-freak on your raspberry canes and tying them up to prevent them from flopping over, how about just ignoring the mess and letting them be. If they lean over as they grow and start bearing fruit, the leaves work as a rather useful shield to make the ripe berries less visible from above, and therefore fewer birds are likely to notice them!