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Connecticut Garden Journal: How to protect your berries from birds

 File - a robin snacks on a berry in Washington County, Nebraska
Jim McWilliams
Getty Images
Installing netting is the best way to keep birds from enjoying your berries before you can, but just laying the net over bushes and plants isn't enough.

It's berry season. We lost many berries to a late frost, but our blueberries and grapes look fabulous. So, I'm hyper focused on protecting them from our main culprit; birds. We've tried a number of ways to keep birds off our berries.

At first, we tried hanging reflective objects, including holographic tape, in the berry patch. A breeze moves the objects and the light bounces off them scaring the birds. We also tried scary eye balloons that mimic a hawk's eye. They both worked to a certain extent, but the birds eventually got used to them.

There aren't many repellent sprays available, but one I tried with some success is a home remedy, trialed by the University of Massachusetts Extension. It consists of 4 packets of grape flavored Koolaid in a gallon of water. Spray this solution on ripening berries; the birds don't like the flavor and leave them alone. Simply wash the Koolaid off before you eat the berries. You do have to reapply the spray after it rains.

The best solution, though, has always been netting. I found just laying the net over bushes and plants isn't enough. As long as large birds, such as cardinals, bluejays or crows can sit on the netting and poke at berries through it, you'll lose a good share of your crop. That's what happened last year with our grapes. So, this year we bought 8 foot tall, plastic coated, metal posts, put a tennis ball on top of each and draped netting over the posts and plants to create a cage. So far, it's working like a charm.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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