Allotment netting can prove to be one of the best investments to make on a plot. Without it, all the effort spent growing fruit and vegetables may result in happy insects, birds, and animals.
There are many types of allotment netting each with their own purpose, such as bird netting, butterfly netting, and insect netting. Considerations for each are described below. Quality of nets also vary, with more expensive nets being less fiddly to use and lasting longer.
Timing is important. The temptation is to leave erecting allotment netting late, and perhaps, only if there is evidence of attack. The truth is birds and insects are hungry today and may not wait. An attack can strike early or late in the growing cycle, and by the time you notice it, it may be too late to correct for the current growing season.
Types Of Allotment Netting
Nets come in different specifications depending upon the pest they are intended to protect against.
Mesh approximately 1mm by 1mm.
Insect mesh is designed to prevent even the smallest insects reaching your crop, and it also protects against butterflies and birds too. However, insect mesh is also relatively expensive compared to other netting options.
Insect netting comes in different sizes of mesh to protect against even the tiniest insects, and in differing levels of UV protection.
Butterfly netting is so named because the mesh is tight enough to prevent butterflies penetrating the mesh and laying their eggs on the crop you are trying to protect. This in itself is not a problem, but when the caterpillars emerge they can devastate a crop. Butterfly netting is also relatively expensive compared to bird netting, especially if you intend to purchase a net both wide and long.
The cheapest butterfly nets are of the dimension to cover a row or two of your chosen crop, and it may be worth pre-planning the size and length of your rows to the size of the cheapest net.
This is the most common type of netting sold in garden centres, supermarkets and the like. Its popularity is reflected in the price with many good deals available.
The cheapest types of bird netting tend to be in smaller sizes, and need to be stretched to reach their full size. There are many stronger and more durables types of bird netting available, which also have the advantage of being easier to use.
I have found it best to get the largest net sizes, say 4m by 6m, as this gives the greatest flexibility when re-using the net around the allotment. It can be very frustrating to realise that the net you have purchased is just too short to cover the crop.
The cheapest netting to buy owing to its wide gauge. The netting acts both as a climbing support for the plants and as protection against bird attack - especially from larger birds like pigeons. I erect the net at the same time as planting my seeds to give the seedlings (and seeds) protection right from the start. See pea netting on Amazon UK.
If you are considering buying allotment netting you may like the following tips:
Shop around - there are often bargains to be had.
Allotment netting comes in different quality levels. Look out for those made from thicker materials with UV resistance. These will last longer. A cheap net is not cheap if you need to buy it twice as often as a more expensive net!
Weed around your plants. Unfortunately allotment netting does not stop weeds growing. If weeds grow up around and through your nets it can be a thankless task to remove them at the end of the growing season, and if you are successful nets are often damaged in the process.
The photos below are just some of the ways nets can be valuable at the allotment. I prefer to use clothes pegs and canes as a cheap way of creating a structure to support the nets. Using this approach it is also possible to create a big net by joining small nets together.
Gooseberries are loved by birds. You risk losing the lot if they are not covered.
I like to grow alpine strawberries that fruit throughout the summer. I created the cage below made from relatively durable netting and it is has proved a good investment. There are still no rips in the netting after 5 years.
A simple pea support structure wrapped with netting. The bricks at the bottom are a useful way of pinning down the net, and can also be removed easily when weeding work is required.