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Reflective Mulches Boost Fruit Size, Color and Yields

08/01/2011

By Renee Stern, Contributing Editor

Reflective materials that bounce additional sunlight up into tree canopies from the orchard floor can pay off in higher yields, bigger sizes, and better and more evenly colored fruit.

Tests over the past eight years with reflective fabrics placed in drive rows produced similar results in apples, cherries, pears, peaches and nectarines, says Tory Schmidt, a research associate with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission in Wenatchee.

“I was a little surprised at how consistently effective they’ve been at those three qualities,” Schmidt says.

‘Pretty substantial’ results

Results include a “pretty substantial” impact in size, fruit set and yield. Yields in test plots, for example, have run up to 20 percent to 25 percent higher, he says. Mylar foils used in the tests improved only fruit color.

Higher yields, larger fruit and better color “all put money back in the grower’s pocket,” Schmidt says.

While reflective materials so far are more common in Western orchards, the extra light also is crucial for Michigan cherry growers using high tunnel systems with blush varieties.

“We’re already light-limited [without high tunnels] so every little bit helps,” says Greg Lang, professor of horticulture at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Adding to the problem, the plastic used in high tunnels partly blocks ultraviolet light.

And without UV light, only the topmost layer of Rainiers and other high-value blush cherries achieve full color. The rest, he says, stay pale yellow.

Convincing results in blush cherries

Lang hasn’t found funding for a full range of controlled experiments with the reflective materials.

But he’s done enough preliminary work with three types—Extenday reflective fabric, Mylar foil and a white weed barrier fabric—to show convincing results with blush cherries.

The jury is still out for the region’s growers with Bings and other sweet red varieties, or for those not using high tunnels, he says.

Any added expense requires careful consideration.

Choices, choices, choices

Which reflective material to use depends on your objectives for a particular block, says Jonathan Toye, founder and chief executive officer of Extenday USA Inc.

The company, based in Yakima, Wash., offers 10 versions of its reflective fabric, varying in weight, durability, reflectivity and weave construction.

Growers’ objectives also affect how they use the material, when they deploy it and whether they shift it later in the growing season to aid a different crop, Toye says. “Think about it as a management tool,” he says.

Washington Fruit & Produce Co. in Yakima, Wash., has used Extenday since 2005, mainly in Gala apple blocks. There, the company sees not only color improvements but also up to a 10 percent increase in yield, says orchard manager Dan Plath.

“If [color] was the only reason it wouldn’t justify the expense,” he says.

For color alone, Mylar foils suffice, he says. The company chooses that material for its older Fuji and Gala varieties.

“We have to work harder on those to get color, so there’s a lot of room for improvement,” he says. “But the newer generations [of those varieties] are where we’re getting 70 to 80 percent premium [fruit].”

If improving fruit color is your main objective, Schmidt says, you can wait until a few weeks before harvest to install reflective foils or fabrics. Laying out the material at bloom helps increase cell division to ultimately boost fruit size and yield.

Hold off early deployment until after any severe frost forecasts, Plath says.

Reflective materials substantially reduce ground warming from spring sunlight, which can translate into a degree or two drop in nighttime orchard temperatures—a potentially crucial difference for frost protection.

Mylar foils cost less up front, Schmidt says, but are less durable and must be replaced after a single season, increasing disposal costs.

Sturdier materials such as Extenday represent a bigger initial investment, but can be used for five or six years before replacement.

And unlike the foils, they also can stand up to being rolled up and moved to a new location partway through the growing season, he says.

Many growers take advantage of that sturdiness, placing the fabric strips in apple blocks early in the season to boost cell division, then transferring them to cherry orchards before harvest.

After finishing up cherries, they return the fabric to apple orchards to boost fruit color, he says.

“The benefits more than pay for all that moving around,” Schmidt says. Growers get three to four uses each year out of the same product rather than investing in three times as much reflective material.

The Extenday fabrics work best raised slightly from the ground to allow air flow, he says. Shock cords secure the material during use.

Plath recommends doubling up shock cords on the windward side of any block, a lesson learned from hard experience. A wind storm blew fabric strips up into tree rows like sails, breaking trees at bud unions.

But avoid tightening the cords too much, he says. The material needs some give, especially to handle equipment traffic.

Careful handling and storage during the off-season—ideally rolled up under a tarp out of the way—will help increase its life, Schmidt says.

Reflective material can help make “the best blocks better,” he says. But it’s not a rescue product. “It may marginally help shaded, struggling blocks, but there has to be light reaching the ground for it to be effective.”

 

For information regarding American Nettings and Fabric’s mulch, please see Veggie Mulch

More about American Nettings

About American Nettings

American Nettings & Fabric supplies a full complement of ‘American Made’  bird netting, deer fencing, trellis netting, shade cloth, crop cover, landscape fabric, and much more for the lawn & garden and horticultural markets. Whether you’re looking for plastic mesh to use as a bird repellent or deer-proof fencing, we have the solutions and products you need. Our main objective is to provide quality product and solutions in nettings and fabric to commercial agriculture as well as provide retail packages for wholesale and retail.
We do a great deal of business providing a variety of netting solutions to Vineyards. We supply netting for full vineyard enclosures as well as side netting and multi row netting.
The company was founded in 1983 as a family run operation based on high standards of integrity and quality. Although the company has grown and now holds national and international markets the company is still run as a family operation based on good old fashion business morals.
Whether you have a commercial agriculture operation or a home garden addition, we have solutions for you that will save you time and money.

Specialties

Vineyard Netting solutions, Agricultural netting and fabric solutions, Wholesaling packaged netting and fabric for home gardening, Online retail sales of packaged netting and fabric for the home gardener

  • Headquarters

    7042 Portal Way Bldg N1 Ferndale,Wa 98248 United States

  • Website

    https://www.americannettings.com/

  • Industry

    Farming

  • Type

    Sole Proprietorship

  • Company Size

    11-50 employees

  • Founded

    1985

Crop Cover (Row Cover) is a Gardener’s Best Friend

Crop Cover (Row Cover) is a Gardener’s Best Friend

            In Horticulture, row cover (or Crop Cover) is any material used to cover plants as a protective shield primarily against cold and frost.  It is also used to protect against wind, rain, snow, sun, bird and insect damage.  American Nettings’ row cover is called Crop Cover, not to be confused with cover crops, which are vegetative crops that are planted to protect soil from wind and water erosion in between planting of a cash crop.  Crop Cover is know by many different names including: frost cover, row cover, frost blanket, frost protection, reemay, garden fabric, non-woven garden fabric, spun-bonded fabric, over-winter fabric, plastic row cover, plastic mulch, field cover, and floating row cover.

Crop Cover acts as a protective greenhouse that keeps plants warm and guards against frosts, while allowing sunlight and moisture to pass through.  This creates all the perfect conditions to increase the growth of your plants and produce bigger, better and earlier crop yields.  There are many different types of Crop Cover.  The three main Crop Covers (or row covers) that we will discuss are non-woven spun-bonded fabrics, plastic row covers, ribbon-knitted shade covers.

Non-woven Spun-bonded Fabrics:

The most commonly used Crop Cover is the non-woven spun-bonded fabric. Fabric Crop Covers are lightweight blankets made of spun-bonded polypropylene which is sunlight, rain and air-permeable.  American Nettings carries a lightweight and a medium weight crop cover.

The Medium crop cover weighs .9oz/yd (30gm).  It has a 70% light transmission and is UV Stable.  It protects from frosts down to 26°F and has a life expectancy of 2 years.  It’s great for extending the growing season by planting early in the spring and continuing to grow and produce late into the fall.  They also makes and excellent wind break for young transplants.  This row cover is ideal for over-wintering strawberries, herbs, small fruits, tender landscape plants and just about any perennial.

The Lightweight spun-bonded crop cover weighs .5oz/yd (17gm).  It has a light transmission of 85% and protects from frost down to 28°F.  Its life expectancy is 1 year.  The light weight crop cover, also know as floating row cover, is great for promoting seed germination.  Lightweight crop cover can be used all season long to defend some crops such as carrots or onions against birds, insects, harsh rain and light hail.  Other crops that require germination such as squash and tomatoes should be uncovered as soon as they start to flower.  In hot climates Crop cover may have to be removed to prevent excessive heat build up.  Lightweight can be double layered in the spring to have the same effects as the medium wt and then a layer can be removed when it warms up.

Non-woven Spunbonded Fabric

Non-woven Spunbonded Fabric

Plastic row covers: 

Plastic row cover is made out of clear plastic (polyethylene).  This type of Crop cover must be carefully managed because it is much less forgiving and more labor intensive then fabric covers.  Temperatures under plastic can be as much as 30° higher then the outside air.  You can Vent them on warm days and close them at night and on cold days.  Plastic row covers that are slitted don’t require venting but you also can’t close them up at night.  For those gardeners that live in Warmer Southern areas can use Colored or shaded plastic.  The coloring blocks out some of the sunlight, reducing the heat inside the tunnel.   Plastic cover should be suspended over the plant and not touching the delicate foliage

Plastic crop cover

Plastic crop cover

Ribbon-knitted Shade Cover: 

Knitted shade cover is made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and is a knitted fabric. It is strong and can last up to 8 years. This material comes in different shade effects from 20% to 90%.  When used as a row cover less shade effect is desirable.  If there is too much shade the plants will grow slowly. This product is forgiving in that it allows natural airflow and rain and water penetration unlike plastic. It also protects from light frosts, strong winds and hail. It will not hold as much heat in as the fabric cover but it will allow excess heat to vent better then plastic.  Works great for warmer areas that are more concerned with protecting plants from sun rather the protecting plants from cold.

Ribbon knitted shade

Ribbon knitted shade

Crop Cover is Easy to Use:

Crop Cover is so versatile. The possibilities are endless.  A whole book could be filled with technique for using Crop Cover.  Lets talk about three easy ways to use crop cover in the garden.  One way is to create a Crop Cover tunnel over rows.  The Second technique is to drape Crop Cover over a trellis row.  The third way is to use crop cover as a floating row cover.

A protective tunnel formed with row cover is sometimes called a cloche. More often, a cloche, or bell jar, refers to a covering made of glass or plastic, placed over individual plants to provide similar protection as row cover.  You can make the tunnel supports with Just about any material such as 9-gauge wire, rebar and wood.  My favorite hoop material is 1” PVC pipe.  It’s strong, lightweight, inexpensive and easy to get.  Pound a 2’ piece of rebar 1’ in the ground and leave 1’ sticking out on either side of the row.  Slide one end of the PVC pipe over one rebar.  Then bend and push the other side of the PVC over the top of the other rebar.  Voilà, You have your first hoop.  Repeat this process every couple of feet all the way down the row.  Suspend the Crop Cover over the hoops and you have a tunnel.

Crop Cover Tunnel

Crop Cover Tunnel

Drape Crop Cover Over a Trellis Row:

Urban gardeners to grow on trellis rows in order to produce more in small spaces and to get higher yields per plant then growing on the ground.  It just so happens that trellis row is perfect for draping Crop Cover over.  You don’t have to do any extra work. The trellis itself becomes the framework for the perfect little microenvironment under the Crop Cover.  Drape the Crop Cover over the top wire of the trellis and pin the bottoms o the ground like a tent formation.  Easy as Pie.

crop cover trellis row

crop cover draped over trellis row

Floating Row Cover:

The first two techniques are great but I’m a big fan of keeping things simple and over the years I have come to realize that there is always stupidly simple technique for doing just about anything.  For Crop Cover this technique is called floating row cover.  You can cover newly seeded beds or transplants with light to medium weight fabric crop cover.  Leave plenty of slack in the material to allow for growth.  Seal and secure the edges and leave it alone.  The plants will grow and lift the crop cover up with them as the go.  That’s what I call low maintenance.  There is no need for elaborate structures or hoops, which leaves more time for the good stuff in life.

crop cover directly over plants with no supports

crop cover directly over plants with no supports

 Secure the Edges:

No matter which technique you use you must secure the edges of the Crop cover in order to seal in the warmth and moister as well as to seal out the sneaky birds and insects.   Bury the edges to make a seal.  Then you must secure the edges from being blown up by the wind or burrowed up by pests.  You can use any number of materials that you have lying around the house such as brick, rocks, 2×4 and old tires.  You get the drift.  Be careful because rock with sharp edges can tear the fabric and let unwanted guests in.  One really clever way that I have seen is to fill old water bottles with water and lay them around the edges of your fabric.  My favorite way technique is to pin down the fabric with plastic fabric pins from American Nettings.  The pins have a loop handle on top, which makes it so easy to push them in and take them out when you need to work with your plants.  You can use them year after year and they are not very expensive.  They also help your garden look neat and tidy verses looking like a bunch of debris blew in on a windy day.

Handling Crop Covers (row cover)
Working with fabric row covers may seem awkward at first.  Lightweight fabric tends to blow around while you’re putting it in place on windy days. The fabric can also tears easily on sharp edges.  But, with a little time you will get the hang of it.  Here are a few tips:

  • The fabric can be cut with scissors to fit over rows or used as-is for wide-row plantings.
  • You can purchase Crop cover in small convenient pieces or you can buy large roll and continue to cut off of that same roll year after year.
  • At the end of the season, shake the covers to loosen dirt and debris, and make sure they’re dry before you put them away. Fold or roll them up and store them in a clean dry place
  • Save all the cut or torn pieces of cover, cut them up into small pieces for patching larger sections of cover that have small holes. You can use waxed dental floss to sew them.

Conclusion:

It’s rare to find gardeners that are satisfied with the length of the growing season.  Luckily, Crop cover can provide a solution for the irresistible urge to go out and start planting as soon as possible.  Crop Cover fabric is a good tool for all gardeners because it is versatile and has an extremely low cost and huge benefits. Spun-bonded Crop Cover Fabric is the favorite choice.  They create a barrier that keeps the wind, cold and pests out, while allowing water, air, sunlight and soluble fertilizers to pass through. Wow!  They can increase your production as much as 25% while decreasing your labor and stress.  That’s why the commercial growers use it so much.

Using Natural Burlap for Carrot Germination

Using Natural Burlap for Carrot Germination

Carrots can be a big early spring headache. In cool weather, they take forever to germinate, 2 or 3 weeks, and by that time, the chance of weed competition is pretty good, and just about anything growing around the tiny seedlings makes excruciatingly time-consuming surgical hand weeding a necessity. What to do?  Many people use woven landscape fabric. The fabric will heat up the soil and speed up germination while keeping weeds down. The problem is the germination window is very tiny.  If you get busy and wait a few hours or a day too long the little seedlings emerge and get toasted from the very same heat that gave them life. If you don’t enjoy this game of roulette then you should try using natural burlap.  The burlap will heat up the soil and speed up germination as soon as 7 days.  It also retains the perfect amount of moisture in its fibers and feeds it to the soil all day long.  The Fabric is very permeable and will let in just the right amount of light and air while releasing excess heat.

Now, all you have to do is get to work!  Here is how to plant carrots in 10 easy steps:

1.  Go to www.americannettings.com and buy a roll of Natural Burlap.While you’re at it, check out the Trellis Netting.  I love growing everything on trellis as you can guess from my previous blog posts.  You will get your order in about 4 days.

2.  Choose a site that gets full sun (carrots will tolerate light shade but won’t do as well). Soil should be light, with a pH of 5.8 to 6.8

3.  Dig to a depth of at least 12 inches, and remove all traces of rocks and other debris – even a small twig could injure a carrot growing tip, stunting the root or making it fork.

4.  Add plenty of organic matter; it will lighten heavy soils and increase the moisture retention of sandy ones. Carrots grow sweeter and less fibrous in soil that remains moist.

5.  Sow carrot seeds directly about two to three weeks before the last expected frost in cool regions; in warm climates, you can plant in fall, winter or spring.

6.  Make early sowings shallow to capture warmth from the sun; sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface, tamp them gently and cover them with a thin layer of finely sifted compost. If planting later, when the soil has warmed up, plant seeds between 1/4 and 1/2 inch deep.

7.  Now roll out two layers of natural burlap over the seeds and gently water down the burlap.

8.  When the seeds germinate you can gently roll off the burlap and let them bask in the sun.  If you wait too long to take the burlap off, the seedlings will begin to come up though the burlap.  Don’t be alarmed. Gently lift the fabric off and the seedlings should pop out the bottom.  However, weeds that have begun to grow will be pulled out. Yay!

9.  Thin seedlings before the tops become entwined: Either clip off the greens with scissors, or pull the roots very gently from the ground so you don’t disturb the remaining plants. Allow 3 to 4 inches between carrots, depending on the variety (check the seed packet for details).

10.  Begin harvesting carrots when they’ve turned deep orange.

One of my fondest memories, as a child, is picking carrots out of my mom’s beautiful garden.  I was only about 3 or 4 so I don’t remember much.  But, I have a clear recollection of pushing my big Yellow Tonka Dump truck (big to a toddler) from the front porch all the way around the house and into this giant jungle of a garden.  While, she was picking tomatoes, I was pulling gigantic carrots out of the ground and filling my dump truck with them.  I felt so helpful.  I would then take a load around the house to the porch and come back for another.  Best Day Ever!

Watermelon Grows on Trellis Netting

This is a great example of urban gardening using a trellis to grow watermelon. I would use our trellis netting rather then the green cord in the picture because it looks translucent and is less obtrusive. when the watermelons get heavy you can make little hammocks for them out of left over netting so they don’t fall off the vine.

Watermelon Growing Tips

Watermelons use a huge amount of water and will grow up to a pound a day given the right conditions.  One of the better tips for growing watermelon is that if you live in the north, you should start early varieties in the house and plant transplants instead of planting the seed directly into the soil. Watermelons prefer sandy loam soil over others.  Watermelons need a long growing season (at least 80 days) and warm ground for seeds to germinate and grow. Soil should be 70 degrees F or warmer at planting time. Sow seeds 1 inch deep and keep well watered until germination.

To get a jump start in cooler climates, cover the planting area with red veggie booster mulch fabric to warm up the soil and start seeds indoors two or three weeks before they are to be set out in the garden. Don’t start seeds any earlier, because large watermelon seedlings transplant poorly. Plant 3 seeds in 3- or 4-inch peat pots or large cell packs, and thin to the best plant. Sow watermelon seeds 1/2 inch deep. Place in a sunny south-facing window or under lights to germinate. Make sure the area is warm?day and night?ideally 80 degrees F. Use a Seedling Heat Mat if necessary.  Select short-season varieties such as ‘Million Bucks Hybrid’ or ‘Orange Sunshine Hybrid’ if your growing season is less than 90 days.   The Veggie Booster Mulch fabric that was previously mentioned will warm the soil, maintain moisture and keep weeds at bay.  the  fabric is a unique red color that reflect light and makes the plant think that is has competition and should grow faster.  Keeping the watermelon plants warm during the spring is very important.  The best way to do this is to use Crop Cover.  Use a piece that  drapes over the top of your Trellis netting and hangs to the ground on each side.  Pin the edges to the ground with plastic fabric pins.  This will hold the crop cover in place even when its windy.  The pins are easy remove as often as you need to get in and work with your plants.  The crop cover creates a little micro environment that is warm with just the right amount of sunlight and moisture.  the fabric collects and traps the heat of the day so that the plants are warmer at night.  When the weather gets nice you simply take the crop cover fabric off and use it again in the fall when it starts to get cold again.

 

 

Plant the watermelon seeds near the base of the trellis.  Train the watermelon vines up the trellis as they lengthen and grow. Watermelons are not natural climbers, so fix the vines to the trellis with string.Monitor your watermelon plant from time to time to make sure that it is stable. Check hammocks to ensure that they are relieving the pressure off of the vines

        Harvest the watermelons at the usual time. Trellising will not change the growth pattern of your plant, although it can protect the fruit from diseases and pests usually encountered on the ground.

watch this video to lean the easiest way to put up trellis netting for your garden.  You can use this technique for a large garden as in the video or you can use the same technique for just one small row.

 

 

Thank You’s from the Custer Community

TOP 10 REASONS WHY GROWING TOMATOES ON TRELLIS NETTING IS FANTASTIC

TOP 10 REASONS WHY GROWING TOMATOES ON TRELLIS NETTING IS FANTASTIC

1.  Easy to install
2. Takes up less space
3.  Makes room for more plants so you can have a bigger harvest
4. More affordable then tomato cages
5. Very beautiful in your garden and Neater more organized looking
6. Easier to prune tomato plant
7. Easier to harvest and you don’t have to bend as much
8. The whole plant gets better sunlight and creates bigger tastier tomatoes
9. Gets your plants off of the ground, allowing for more circulation of air and avoiding foliage and fruit rotting due to excess moisture.
10. Easier to protect from pests

How to Grow Apple Trees From Seed

How To Grow Apple Trees From Seed

Have you ever tried to grow apple trees from seeds collected from an apple? It certainly makes good sense that they would germinate. They are seeds and seeds are supposed to grow, right?

I’ve heard people say apples seeds collected from apples are hybridized and therefore can’t grow because hybrids are sterile.

They are correct in that most commercially grown apples hold hybridized seeds inside. They are probably incorrect that this is the reason why your apple seeds don’t germinate.

Bees bring pollen from one tree to the next. If the bee recently visited a delicious apple tree then visits a granny smith apple tree the resulting apples would produce delicious x granny smith seeds.

You might come up with the next award winning apple variety but don’t count on it.

These seeds are not going to produce a granny smith or a delicious apple tree. They would produce a tree with mixed genetics.

Granny smith and delicious are hybrids themselves, this means the new seeds would be ploy-hybrid. This doesn’t have much to do with viability; the seeds can still be fertile. The myth that seeds collected from hybridized apples are sterile might be caused by the fact that apple seeds need to be stratified before they will germinate. Stratification means the seeds have to be treated with cool temperatures for a certain length of time before they will germinate. Most people probably don’t think to stratify their apple seeds. The seeds never germinate hence the idea that they are sterile or infertile.

If you collect seeds from an apple and put them in soil or a terrarium, your apple seeds likely won’t germinate for 2 reasons. The seeds need a dry out period followed by a stratification period. If you skip these 2 steps you probably won’t have success germinating your apple seeds.

If you want to germinate apple seeds collected from an apple first let the seeds dry out for 3-4 weeks. Set the seeds on a piece of wax paper etc and roll them over every day or 2. After a month or so the seeds lose that dark shine and get a lighter dryer look. This is a good indication the seeds have dried well.

Once the seeds are dry put them in a container or zip lock bag. You can also add soil if you wish. Place the container or bag in your refrigerator for about 3 months.

If you chose to add soil you can moisten the soil after about 10 or 11 weeks. Keep a good watch on the bag and let fresh air in often. You should start to see leaves popping out of the soil in a few weeks if everything went right.If you didn’t choose to add soil you can try to plant the seeds directly into pots or in the ground. If you time it out you can let the seeds dry over the winter and put them into the refrigerator 3 months before the frost usually leaves. Cool weather seems to help apple seeds sprout as well. Commercially grown apple varieties are usually grafted to a wild variety rootstock. The wild variety will be hearty and adapted to the local climate. This method not only produces more apples, without grafting, certain varieties wouldn’t be able to grow in certain climates. Grafting allows commercial farmers to produce more varieties in limited opportunity type climates.

This brings another complication into the whole idea of growing cross pollinated apple seeds. You don’t know it the new variety you get will be tolerant to you local climate. The tree might simply die off after a winter or 2.

If you do manage to succeed in starting apple trees from seed don’t forget to protect them from critters. Rabbits and deer like to eat fruit trees, especially young tender ones. Put up some kind of fence for rabbits and use other defenses against deer etc.

Deer, rabbits and other herbivores have also very likely been the culprits of that mystical apple tree that appeared in your field or at your cabin and in those areas that don’t usually get mowed. Animals eat apples and the seeds that pass through these animals can still be viable. I’ve seen many apple trees spring up in my aunt’s horse pasture when I was growing up. We would collect apples from wild trees growing in the woods and feed the scabby ones to her horses in the autumn. The following summer new apple trees would sprout up around the pasture.

A Good time to collect apple seeds is when mom is making an apple pie. Sometimes I eat an apple I think is exceptional and save the seeds. Who knows I might get lucky or I might just have a little fun.

Growing apple trees from commercially grown seeds isn’t really a bad thing. It would make a great project if you are interested in seeing what kind of apples you will get. I suggest starting this project at a young age if you want to see the results though.

Another reason to start apples from seed would be for a science fair project. You could try germinating apple seeds that have been stratified for different periods of time, some that were frozen, some that were never stratified and see which method produced the best results.

Good luck with your apple seeds!

Collecting and growing seeds is one of my many hobbies. Visit my website from more information. Seeds

How Does Your Garden Grow? By Bird Proofing

Most people when asked that age old nursery rhyme question, “How does your garden grow?” would spew out, “with silver bells and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row.”  If you are the wise, experienced gardener you may have a different answer, “bird proof, from grass to roof.”  Not only does it take watering, pruning and fertilizing to get your garden and yard green and blossoming, but it takes action against the pest bird that can wreak havoc on your property and peace.

The time, effort and money spent on gardens and yards in spring should not be wasted.  The last thing we want is to pick the peaches and apricots off the trees that have already been taste tested by birds.  It is also not very appealing to serve fresh garden tomatoes that have been half eaten already.  So how do you best bird proof and protect your precious gardens, yards and homes?  Physical, sound and visual deterrents that is safe for all and humane for the bird.

Physical bird deterrents work by preventing access to the area the birds are drawn to.  For instance, bird netting could be used to protect any fruit trees or blueberry bushes you may have in your yard.  Bird proof netting is lightweight and very easy to use.  It will not take away any aesthetic beauty from the colorful fruits as it is virtually invisible.  It can be used for any garden plant as well.  Many times the birds will sit in wait on the roof ledges.  Installing plastic or stainless steel bird spikes will keep the pest birds from landing and roosting. All physical bird deterrents make a very unwelcoming environment for the birds.

Sound bird deterrents can actually be quite fun to use.  It takes some time outside to investigate and determine which pest bird is hovering around and sitting on your tree branches waiting to feast on your harvest. Once you have decided which bird is the culprit, select the bird sound on the sonic unit; place it anywhere in your garden area, patio, gazebo or roof top.  Turn it on, adjust the volume and watch the birds being chased away by their own predator and distress calls. Sonic units are very easy to use, and can run day and night, depending on how you set the timer.

Visual bird deterrents can be very useful in an variety of areas.  If you have a pool in your backyard, there are inflatable balloons that can float in your pool which actually confuse and frighten the birds away.  The balloons as well as hanging bird deverters have an iridescent foil eye that has a shiny reflective surface, and predator eyes that will make the bird turn and leave and avoid any areas where these bird proof deterrents are.  They are very easy to hang in your fruit trees, pool area or patio covers.

There is no need to worry about the fight-or-flight response of the pest birds.  Using any of the deterrents will induce a flight response.  The goal is to bird proof your property safely and humanely.  Get out your gloves, do your gardening, or just lay by the pool knowing you have protected your home by taking the time to bird proof the needed areas and look forward to a fruitful summer.

Kathy lives in Southern California where she enjoys writing, knitting and crochet.