The first sign of blush on your strawberries brings with it anticipation of the deliciously sweet flavour of freshly picked berries. Every day the berries get a little more colour and finally you know that you are just days away from enjoying the first strawberries of the year. The ripening process seems to take forever but then the day comes and you just know that out in the garden, the first of the years berries are ready, fully ripe and waiting to be picked, so you head outside, bowl in hand ……..
……… only to find that something has beaten you to it and your beautifully ripe fruit has had huge chunks hacked out of it!! Oh the frustration! The annoyance! The disappointment!
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t generally begrudge the local wildlife the odd nibble because they also help keep the pests under control but when you find that the beautiful red side of pretty much every strawberry, even the part ripened ones, has been gouged, then tolerance levels tend to get a little lower. Thankfully we’re just at the beginning of the strawberry season and so only a few of the fruit had developed more than the first vestiges of pink blush but still, something had to be done.
At this point I must apologise to our resident Blackbird family because they were my prime suspects, erroneously as it turned out, in this matter.
I caught the perpetrator red handed (or should that red beaked), as I pottered about doing essential maintenance work about the greenhouse plants, while pondering how best to protect my precious strawberry crop. Hearing a flapping noise I peeked out of the door and saw a thrush walking along the row of strawberry pots, stopping every now and again to have a couple of pecks at the berries. Shooing the bird away, I set too and started to reorganise my strawberry pots.
I realised there was plenty of room under the netting on one of the carrot beds to slot in half a dozen pots, thereby protecting them from marauding birdlife and then the rest of the pots were tightly packed into two rows, beside what is to be the Leek bed and then covered with more spare netting. It doesn’t look particularly pretty but you can’t really see it from the house and needs must and all that.
Having used all my spare netting up, I still had the problem of what to do about the strawberries in the half barrels but as these were still a few days away from being anywhere near ready, I decided to leave those for now, so I could have a serious deliberation later on. Unfortunately it seems that the thrush (or some other bird) has decided that the first of these strawberries are now ready and this morning I found the largest, most advanced of the berries, half eaten and so first job after dropping the Mudlets at school was to come up with a plan.
The old CDs that I use to protect the mange tout plants, work a treat, spinning as they do in the slightest breeze, causing flashes of light to appear all over the garden and scaring the life out of the local pigeon population. However, I didn’t have any old discs left and I suspected that Mud wouldn’t be too pleased if I commandeered his old AC/DC, Guns & Roses and Meatloaf discs for the cause and so a new plan of action needed to be drawn up.
Looking around the garden I came up with the notion of constructing a bamboo and garden wire contraption, criss-crossing the garden wire across the top of the half barrels to deter birds from actually landing on the soil. In addition I wrapped more wire around the outside of the bamboos to try and prevent easy of access to the berries hanging over the side and then, the piece de resistance, I tied strips of shiny gold and green gift ribbon to the wire so that these would flap about in the breeze, hopefully having the same result the CDs had achieved.
I now have two very pretty, almost gift wrapped, half barrels in which, I hope, my strawberries can continue to ripen, until they are ready for the inhabitants of Mudville to enjoy. Eat your heart out Mr Thrush because you’re not eating my strawberries!