Are you thinking of putting in a permanent walk in enclosure for your vegetable garden and fruit orchard?
In my opinion it is well worth the investment.
When I first started growing vegetables the bird population took a few years to find my garden, perhaps they were too busy destroying my fruit orchard to worry about a few tomatoes, capsicums and strawberries. Of course, the more I grew the bigger the bird population seemed to get. From Bower birds to Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Rosellas all seemed to take up residence in my backyard.
It is a soul-destroying pastime to plant and tend vegetable seedlings and fruit trees to have the crop vanish overnight.
I would not have minded so much if they had just taken some of the crop or even eaten it but, certainly with the Rosellas and Cockatoos, they just seemed to pull off the fruit for the sake of something to do and never actually eat it.
I am all for sharing but cannot stand wanton destruction.
So, for years now I have struggled with different bird deterrent systems including flying hawks, plastic owls, used CDs and foil pie plates, tapes that whistle in the wind, motion detecting sprinklers, and then various netting systems in both the orchard and vegetable garden.
The cheapest and most effective system I came up with was a structure, either a dome or a tunnel shape, made from large poly pipe pushed over the ends of steel posts then covered in bird netting. The netting was then weighted down around the edges.
Here are some images of the netted structures I have used.
Enclosure created by FW FabricationThese systems work but they do have some major flaws.
In the orchard there is the seasonal struggle of putting netting up before the birds arrive and then trying to get it off the trees, which always manage to grow through the netting, to harvest the crop.
No matter how tight I made the netting I occasionally found a dead bird or snake tangled in it, which is not something I want to be responsible for.
Although netting is supposed to last for years, I was finding I was getting tears in it from year to year and then discovered that the bower birds were eating holes in it at ground level.
I have had to replace the netting several times, which is not a cheap exercise.
In the vegetable garden I had semi-permanent netted tunnels but found them difficult to access and work in. The final straw come when I got tangled up in the netting trying to exit one of the tunnels and had a fall. Not good at any age but when you are getting on a bit it is downright dangerous.
Enough was enough!
So, to the computer I went – researched what companies could build what I wanted and got some quotes.
The biggest decision I had was did I want it built from timber or steel.
Then if steel, did I want welded joints or a coupling type system.
I finished up going with a welded steel frame covered in aviary mesh.
Timber was just too heavy looking and created too much shade as you needed more post than with steel structure.
My experience with treated pine is that it twists, warps and splits and hardwood rots quickly in our acid soil.
A welded steel structure turned out to be the cheapest option and was much easier to hang close fitting doors into, making extra bird proof.
It is difficult to come up with a definitive answer as to whether the cost of putting in a permanent enclosure 20 years ago would have been a cheaper option. The real cost of purchasing, trialling and replacing the different deterrent systems and the hours needed to put up, pull down or replace those systems is difficult to calculate retrospectively.
But regardless of the cost of the enclosure, having a structure that I can just walk into is making my gardening much easier, so it is worth it for that alone. The sheer convenience of opening a gate and getting access to the whole vegetable garden and orchard to complete tasks or harvest crops is just blissful. There is also no more anguish over to when to net the fruit trees and blue berries or trying to decide if the crop is ripe enough to pull the netting off and harvest all the crop- just open the gate harvest what you need and walk out again.
I am finding it such a worthwhile investment that if I had my time again, I would have no hesitation in doing it properly and building a permanent structure, seeing it as a worthwhile investment and just a necessary part of developing a home food production system.
So, if you are struggling with critters making off with your beautiful home grown produce then why not do the costing or get a quote for putting in a solid permanent enclosure which will see you having critter free gardening for the rest of your days.