We have a real problem here with wild birds eating our seedlings. They love broccoli, lettuce, beans, beetroot, silverbeet, corn – they even pulled out some of our onions and garlic!
Time for some defence structures.
I did a bit of thinking and some online research, and decided to rig up some simple bird nets over the beds. I cut 50cm (~18 inch) lengths of concrete reinforcing bar (“reo”) and drove them partially into the ground around the garden bed, just deep enough so that they were secure. I got the reo bars from the garbage tip – 8x 2m bars for $5. I love the tip shop!
The beds are 1m (3 feet) wide, and I placed the reo bars about 1.5m (5 feet) apart along the length of the bed.
Next I cut 1.8m (6 foot) lengths of 19mm (3/4 inch) poly irrigation pipe, and formed arches across the bed between opposing reo bars. They were surprisingly sturdy.
I bought some 4m x 4m (13 foot square) bird nets from Bunnings (about $5), and cut them in half so they’re 2m x 4m. This length and width nicely spans the bed and covers 3 pairs of hoops (i.e. a 3m (10 foot) long bed), with enough left over at the ends to reach to the ground. I cut up wire coathangers to make the pegs, and pinned down the sides and ends of the bird nets.
As you can see in the photo below, the end hoops get pulled inwards a little. I’m going to hammer in some tomato stakes to hold them up straight.
The end result looks pretty good, and so far is working really well to keep the birds out. They keep the free-ranging chooks away as well. Of course, these bird nets will only be good for low-growing plants (lettuce, broccoli, carrots, beetroot, strawberries, etc). I’ve built a different kind of net structure for the tall stuff like corn and tomatoes – but that’s another story.
If you have a choice, the white bird nets seem to be better for this stuff. Black nets look nice because they’re almost invisible, but that means that the birds can’t see them and they’ll get tangled up. Then you either have unnecessary slow deaths, or the thankless task of trying to untangle an ungrateful bird while avoiding its beak and claws.
How do you protect your gardens from birds? I’d love to hear about other cheap and simple solutions!