Fruit nets and cages can be expensive. There is a balance to be struck between how much you invest, and how long your structure will last for. Our guide on how to make a fruit cage describes how to make a durable cage using materials commonly available in garden centres or from the internet.
If you are growing fruit, you are growing produce that birds love to eat. Chances are that unless you offer some kind of protection, your harvest will be greatly reduced unless you provide some form of protection.
How To Make A Fruit Cage
See our video on how to make a fruit cage, or if you prefer continue reading below.
Fruit plants and bushes are typically perennials that will provide fruit for many years. For easy maintenance (no weeding), surrounding fruit with weed control fabric can significantly reduce work. Also, it prevents weeds becoming entangled in netting, meaning that your nets will last longer. You may like to see our video on weed control fabric and how we positioned it around our gooseberry bushes.
The first step is to create a frame to suspend the net. Wood stakes and bamboo canes are relatively cheap, but will eventually rot in the ground. Plastic coated steel stakes are an affordable alternative.
For our fruit cage we positioned the canes a little over 1m apart from each other to create a grid around our row of fruit bushes. We then suspended garden wire between the canes to create a support structure to hang the nets. This is important as otherwise the net would sag between the canes.
To ensure the wire would stay in place, we wrapped it tightly around the canes, and then wrapped the wire with strong waterproof tape as a further measure to stop it moving.
The final step is to position and secure the netting itself. When buying netting, it is much easier to work with a large net that covers the structure without needing to be stretched. A net that needs stretching will require more pegging at ground level to prevent gaps appearing.
For our fruit cage shown in the video, we used an 8m wide net (at maximum stretch) to cover a frame measuring about 4m (the distance of covering the frame up one side, over the bushes, and down the other side). This ample width made the net easy to peg without needing to stretch it.
The sides of the netting were secured to the ground using square topped pegs. These make it easy to gather surplus netting under the top of the peg. Any gaps around the edges of the net are best avoided as they allow for birds to enter, which apart from loss of fruit, can lead to the birds becoming trapped inside the net.
At the top of the canes we secured the net by using flexible plastic coated garden wire. When combined with the pegs, these ties firmly anchor the net to the canes and to the ground. We intend to remove our garden nets at the end of the fruiting season to help them last longer. Although many types of netting have UV protection, sunlight will eventually degrade the plastic.