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A better way for keeping birds out of blueberries!
We’ve come up with a simple and inexpensive technique for keeping birds out of blueberries. Instead of netting, we’re now using sheer, semi-opaque curtain panels and clothes pins.
That’s because, these hold up to wind and rain.
And they’re easy to open and close.
Plus, they’re inexpensive and reusable.
Too, they keep the birds out without catching them in annoying bird netting!
Watch our 2-minute video showing how we’re keeping birds out of blueberries.
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When is the best time to keep birds out of blueberries?
You may be wondering when is the best time to protect your blueberries from birds. That’s probably because you realize that pollinators need to reach blueberry flowers so that the berries themselves will form.
In fact that means there are some birds you probably want to have reach your blueberries. And those are hummingbirds!
So that means timing is really important when you’re wrapping your berry bushes. Ideally, wrap them after the flowers have been pollinated but before the fruits show any sign of ripening.
And if you’d like to learn more about attracting hummingbirds to your garden, check out this sneak peek of our Growing a Hummingbird Habitat Garden online seminar for FREE and be sure to sign up so you’re notified as soon as the full program is next available!
Want to see an example of a hoop house enclosure for blueberries?
Reader Steve E. wrote to use privately asking for more information about building a hoop house for blueberries. He says:
“I have about 10, 4′ blueberry plants planted in a clump. I watched your video about the curtain sheets. At the end you quickly mentioned what sounded like a “hoop”. The comment went by so fast, I’m not sure what you are talking about. Can you let me know? Just saw a catbird in the berries this am. I agree the netting is not the way to go.”
To clarify, a “hoop” refers to building a hoop house style greenhouse around berry bushes. But instead of wrapping it in plastic, which would build too much heat for berry bushes, we’d wrap a hoop with something more breathable like fleece or the same curtains.
Check out a photo example of a fleece wrapped hoop house here.
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You’ll find the simple tools we like for keeping birds out of blueberries in our shop.
Still interested in bird netting for keeping birds out of blueberries?
Yep, it’s about that time when the fruit begins to turn from green to pale gray and then suddenly dots of deep purple-blue cover the shrubs. And, we humans aren’t the only ones watching for the day those sweet orbs are ready to devour. All sorts of wild birds are out there keeping an eye on our crops, too.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to keep birds out of your blueberry patch. All it takes is a bit of temporary netting. And now’s the time to wrap your shrubs in this simple, near-invisible material. But, really, our newer method in the video is our favorite way to keep birds out of our blueberry patch.
Tips on how & when to work with netting.
Although netting could go up earlier in the season, when shrubs are in bloom, we tend to wait until the fruits are a bit more formed. Blooms tend to easily break free from the bushes under the simplest touch, and without those flowers, no fruits would form. Not-quite-ripe berries, on the other hand, are usually more tightly attached to the shrubs, and while fragile, don’t seem to break off as readily. So, that’s when we put out the netting.
Covering a blueberry bush in netting is fairly simple. Unroll (or if you’re recycling last year’s netting, untangle) your netting, so it will roll out relatively easily. You don’t want to be struggling with it a lot as you’re putting it over the delicate branches and fruit.
Carefully drape the netting over the entire bush or patch, taking care to tuck the edges of the fabric around all of the fruit. If possible, cover the plant all the way to the ground or some wily birds will hop under the netting and gorge themselves from underneath.
And, that’s about it.
Here are reasons we don’t like bird netting anymore…
Keep an eye on the patch and the netting. Some dingbat birds — especially new fledglings — may still try to get to your fruit, tangling themselves in the netting along the way. We caught a young robin in our netting a few years back and were able to set it free. We have heard tales of other gardeners finding dead birds strangled in netting.
Also, netting makes harvesting more difficult.
If you do choose to use bird netting for keeping birds out of blueberries…
When your fruit is ripe, and you’re ready to harvest, carefully lift the netting away from your fruit to pick. Or, duck under the netting as you go. As the fruit becomes more ripe, its attachment to the branch also weakens with the intent being to release the seed-filled fruit to the soil where it may form a baby plant. So, try to disturb the netting only minimally to reduce the risk of breaking off ripening fruit.
After your harvest is over, you’re free to remove the netting and store it for the following year. Or, move it from the finished blueberries to other fruit that ripens later — perhaps a late season blueberry patch, goji berries or even your blackberries. If you don’t get to removing the netting right away, don’t worry about it. It’s easy enough to take off your plants when you’re raking up leaves in autumn.
While I haven’t done so for the blueberries (but will), I built fruit cages for several of my fruit trees, with rebar in the ground first, then pvc 1″, and then mosquito netting secured on it with contractor’s adhesive, which adheres fast and is waterproof. So far so good. at the bottom and one of the sides, I secure the fabric with a piece of wooden treated lumber, so when I want to go in, I just remove the wood. I think with the blueberries I will make a door, which is more secure.
Thanks for sharing Edward. Good luck with your system.
How about shade cloth?
You could certainly try shade cloth Heidi. But, then the sunlight won’t get to the plants as well.
can the bees still pollinate them ?
Anthony, I assume you’re asking if the blueberries can be pollinated if they’re wrapped to keep bees out. Here’s the deal: we wrap them after pollination has happened but before the fruit is something the birds go for. Easy peasy!
I will go out today and buy the curtains. I don’t care for the netting for the same reasons you mentioned. Thanks for the tip!
Thank you. I have lost two years of bids stealing my blue berries. Each time one lands want to run out in my back yard to chase them away. Cutain panels. Next year ill be ready.
This is a great idea! I just (unwillingly) fed the birds most of my blueberry harvest! I used netting but they landed on the top branches and just poked through the holes. I love the idea of using curtains–no plastic, and it’s giving new purpose to unused materials. (I’m going to check the thrift stores!)
Thank you again!
Lori, I’m so glad this idea resonated with you. I’ve even used the same curtains this year to wrap cover my strawberries. My chickens, the wild robins & even my berry-eating puppy are staying out. And I’m actually getting berries again this June. Good luck. I hope you’re able to protect the rest of your crop!