In my region strawberries need to be netted and chipmunks trapped out. The easiest type of net to use is not the readily available black mono filament but a more expensive woven product available form American Nettings. Put it over the berries when they start to turn and remove it immediately after harvest.
I’ve read that fishing line hung over berries and other crops works to deter birds. Or at least works to deter hawks from killing farmers chickens when everything else (non-lethal) fails according to a podcast. Going to try it over my raspberries next year to see if it actually works.
I use netting and temporary frame.
Netting could be plastic bird netting, tulle fabric, special plastic netting, anything with netting structure and fabric softness.
Frame is small bamboo sticks and old hose. This is how I do it. I cut old hose in pieces with length for your bed 64 inches. For your bed you need 5 pieces. You also need 3 bamboo sticks per hose piece(15 total) (3 feet long will do it, HD or other hardware stores have them in 10 packs). Start with pushing bamboo sticks in the ground in pairs, first on the ends on opposite sides of the beds, then divide the bed in equal pieces in length(if you have 5 pieces of house, you will need to cut your bed in four equal parts, and push bamboo sticks in one against another along two long sides of the bed. ) Now take you hose pieces and push a bamboo stick inside of each of hose piece. Now take this pieces and turn ends down and put each hose piece on pair of bamboo sticks. Make sure your sticks in the ground are deep in the ground and stable. Now you can cover whole thing with you netting. Note, that length and width of the netting should be at least 2 feet more then length and width plus TWO height of bamboo sticks accordingly. You can use plastic conduit pipes sold in HD to hold the netting down on the ground.
Forgive me my bed picture
Wanting something easier (than previous attempts) to get into we built a simple box with lightweight separate chickenwire lids. It’s worked well. The box is simply boards held together with loose pin hinges (you could also just screw them together) so it can be easily dismantled. Lids are hinged in center for ease of opening. They could also just be made smaller so easy to lift off. It’s stored in an outbuilding and put on when the SB’s are turning red or I notice them disappearing.
It doesn’t keep raccoons out but does work for birds. I think it would work for rabbits, too, but my garden/orchard is all fenced so I don’t have a rabbit issue. Electric wire keeps the coons at bay.
Good luck with your strawberries! They’re my #1 berry. Sue
This is what I wanted to do for a long time. Only thing that stops me is the fact I have to move my strawberries every 4 years, and next bed may be different in size, as my garden is not one flat plot, but set of different size beds on the slope and I will not be able just move my frame to new location.
I have mine in a raised bed now, after losing every single strawberry to chipmunks this year, when they were just planted in a regular garden bed. I’m planning to build something just like what Sue has, for a top. Robins like to peck them, slugs will eat holes out of them, chippies run off with them or take a bite and drop it ten feet away… strawberries require serious protection to avoid disappointment!
An important principle in protecting what you want to eat from others who also want to eat it, it’s to prevent them from finding and tasting it in the first place.
If they have found your treasure, and have tasted it, they will be MUCH more persistent in getting around your defenses.
Slugs are an important predator on strawberries. When the fruit start to form, liberally apply slug bait around and in the bed. This will lower the slug population. This is something that is done after a rain, and when there is no more rain in in the weekly forecast.
Birds and bunnies will both be deterred with bird netting, IF they haven’t found/tasted the fruit yet. The netting should not be laid directly on the plants. You can find some inexpensive utility wire to make hoops over your strawberry patch. I love @Galinas idea using old hoses as part of the support. The only problem with netting is that it makes weeding a hassle, so lay the netting on the support just as the flowers begin to show. I move bird netting (and wire supports) from spot to spot all over my garden to defeat pests. For example, right now I have laid it on the ground over my garlic patch to prevent squirrels from burying their acorns and digging the garlic up.
Wishing you an unmolested bumper crop.
I agree about weeding, but weeding and mulching should be done before the berries form. If you do it when berries present, you disturb the soil and provoke soil born fungus diseases. If you really have to weed while berries present, better cut the weeds than pull them out. But with raised beds it is possible to get to the point when weeds will not be a problem for a crop month.
Sue, I’m curious as to how the racoons get in: by lifting the lid or clawing at the chicken wire? This year the local racoons are more preoccupied with ripping up my neighbor’s lawn for grubs. I finishing yanking out the lawn last year. It doesn’t grow well here and I have no use for it. I did OK with putting some metal fence posts and 1/4" screening around raised beds. I had beginner’s luck
Hi Carole - They dug under & generally made a mess. It was the first year for the new cage and I think they just had to check it out! And eat ripening strawberries of course. Usually they only bothered to go after the corn or tart cherries. The population does go up and down so it depends on the year but normally I don’t have to turn the electric on for the strawberries. Maybe that year we hadn’t put the electric wires around the entire fence yet (which has made life WAY easier). So I laid old chicken wire on the ground beside the boxes, turned up some at the edge and stapled to the boxes. Likely because there was more interesting easy food elsewhere. I’m sure they could have gotten in had they really wanted to. It was a make-do but it worked. Some mulch over the wire helped the “uncomfortable to kneel on” factor. Hope your resident raccoons like your neighbor better than you! Sue