Battle Strawberry

Every year, we try to grow strawberries, and every year the critters (we think mostly squirrels) get the berries first. And every year, the Brit says he’s going to outsmart them.

The strawberry plants, which began as two plants from the pick-your-own farm down the road, initially went into a raised bed and quickly took it over. We got some berries early on, and they were so delicious that we kept going for more, even as the animals started beating us to them. One year, we reclaimed the bed for tomatoes and other crops, and since then, we have used pots (and given many away). They’d overwinter in the garage and then we’d start the battles.

At first, there was peace this year. The strawberry plants grew. Then they started flowering. A few days later, the tops were munched. Thanks, deer.

So the pots went into the cold frame, cracked open with some wood to keep them from baking. The leaves started coming back, and all seemed fine for a while–til the first strawberry started developing. Something got in and had a snack.

So the Brit covered the cold frame with chicken wire and put a piece of hardware cloth under the entire cold frame to keep the more determined ones from digging their way in. That should foil them, he thought. Plants grew some more, and a strawberry started ripening. Next thing we know, something has eaten half of the berry and left the other half on the hardware cloth.

See the red spot? That's a half-eaten strawberry.
strawberries protected by chicken wire.

Now the mild-mannered Brit was starting to get angry. And he vowed they wouldn’t win. He found some long strips of deer netting that we used to use as walls on the raised beds, and wrapped the cold frame and chicken wire with that.

And guess what happened? Something still got in! Guerrilla warfare at its worst!

We immediately retaliated by picking berries just short of being fully ripe and letting them turn redder in a bowl in the kitchen. How were they? Puny and not particularly good. Definitely nothing like the berries that a neighbor bought from the pick-your-own farm.

So what happens next?

The Brit refuses to give in. Instead he wants to strengthen his defenses. He is even threatening to build a new raised bed (figuring berries don’t really work in containers) with its own cage top, just like he has done for greens this year. There would still be that extra wrapping of deer netting.

Can we defeat the enemy?

And so the battle continues. Anyone have any special weapons they recommend?

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