It is certainly worth growing soft fruit on the plot. We certainly wouldn’t be without our supply of berries. One of the major problems however is that our bird friends love the delicious fruits as much as we do and it can often be a case of who gets to them first.
We grow a lot of soft fruit on our plot some of which would definitely not survive bird onslaught if they were not covered, Growing on an allotment site we don’t want to spend a lot on a purpose made commercial frames so tend to rely on our own do it yourself structures.
Red currants and strawberries are two fruits which would never survive the attention of hungry birds if we didn’t net them. The strawberries are given just a low covering which can be a bit of a nuisance when we want to quickly pick the fruit but very necessary.
A structure high enough for me to stoop under to gather the berries is provided for the redcurrant. We used to use netting to cover this framework but as redcurrants are such a favourite of blackbirds we were very concerned that this posed a hazard to birds and, even after our best efforts fasten the netting in such a way that birds shouldn’t become trapped, sadly we found an occasional victim which bore out our concern. Last year the bottom part of the frame was covered by chicken wire which was more successful.
If we grew fruit in our garden where appearance is one priority then I would definitely want a purpose made fruit cage such as the ones offered by the suppliers mentioned on this page.
Some types of vegetables can also benefit from a bit of protection. On our allotment plot we grow our carrots under enviromesh to give protection from carrot fly. This is very effective even though it isn’t exactly attractive to look at.
We also use insect netting to protect our brassicas from the ravages of white butterfly caterpillars. This also doubles as protection against wood pigeons. The insect netting has smaller holes so is used in preference to that advertised as protection from birds. Some butterflies do seem to manage to get through but this is more due to find a gap in our defences rather than the failure of the netting itself. More about buying netting to make your own ‘frames’ is here but you may wish to buy a ready made product - especially if you grow you own in your garden.
The vegetable cages below can also be used for strawberries - they are similar to fruit cages but not as high.