I’m not all that technically minded, but that never stops me from trying to turn the perfect solution to a garden problem from the vision in my head into a reality. Sometimes it works out wonderfully and I am amazed at what I managed to achieve. Other times something get lost in the translation and, while well intentioned, I create a disaster. Most of the time I manage to cobble something together that vaguely resembles my idea and is fit for purpose and when I stand back and look at what I have achieved I feel happy.
I have been struggling with my strawberry patch since day one, to come up with something that will not only protect it from the critters but also be easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. Recently I have encountered a new foe in the strawberry patch, in that a possum has been eating all the leaves off the strawberry plants. I’m assuming it is a possum as I can’t think what else would do it.
My handy helper and I recently did a winter clean up of the strawberry patch. We gave it a deep weed, replaced the three year old tired plants for the healthiest looking runners and enriched all the soil with blood and bone, Dynamic Lifter organic plant food and compost for a good long term slow release support for the season. It looked fabulous and ready to go for the season. Unfortunately, we seem to have made targets of the plants cleared from the weeds, sitting alone in the space they should soon grow into and before long all the leaves were gone.
I’ve had several versions of protection for my berries. The first one was a good idea but was too unwieldy and required two people to lift it off. So, while the plants were protected, it was a pain to pick the strawberries. Then I decided to just make a hoophouse style structure, but we were in lock down at the time and the netting I ordered online was that horrible thin plastic stuff and it was a potential trap for birds and the weeds soon become enmeshed in it. And it was a bit of a pain to untangle to get in to harvest, and then put back again – getting it perfectly tight to minimise the risk to birds.
After much pondering I came up with a new idea and without wasting any more time I ordered some materials. It started at the lumber yard where they know me well. I explained what I thought I needed, and they sent me home with what I actually needed. Hubby the Un-Gardener was also a great help with this project with his man strength (although I did have to remind him several times not to stomp about on the plants) and also his mind powers when I just couldn’t for the life of me figure out the mathematical angle calculations needed at several stages of the project. I really should have paid more attention to geometry in school. Who’d have known I would have needed to know that stuff all these years later.
What I came up with was a central spine running down the middle of the strawberry raised bed. Then each side was divided into four sections that were wooden frames with a solid plastic trellis insert, connected to the central spine with hinges. They were long enough to extend just beyond the side of the raised beds. The ends were capped off with a triangle frame lined with the same trellis material and secured in place as a permanent fixture. This was cobbled together by good fortune rather than intelligent design… I knew what I wanted and had a ‘make it fit’ attitude. As a result, I surprised myself with my end result.
To access the fruit and tend to the plants, the frames just need to be lifted up and held aloft with pole. It makes it feel so easy that there should be no excuses to miss a single berry or single weed. This season the berries will get all the love they so desperately need and for seasons to come as this structure is going nowhere… unless a fundament flaw presents itself in the coming months and then it will be back to the drawing board. But for now, I’m happy.
Come again soon – things are being crossed off the list left, right and centre.
Sarah the Gardener : o)