Birds often see a blueberry bush as an all-they-can-eat buffet, so protecting your blueberries from avian thievery should be a high priority. Enjoying fresh blueberries from your own garden can be a pleasurable experience in the summer season, but blueberries aren't appealing only to humans.
Nets May Not Be Enough
There are a few ways to protect your blueberry plants from being picked clean by birds, and most of them involve placing netting over the top of the bush to eliminate access. However, many blueberry growers find that birds can be clever and the simple method of draping netting over blueberry bushes doesn't keep the birds at bay. With that in mind, consider building a blueberry cage.
Building a Blueberry Cage
To install a blueberry cage, construct a frame around your blueberry plants and drape the netting over that structure. By using the frame to support the net, you effectively encase the bushes in four sidewalls and a ceiling, eliminating both side and overhead access to ripening fruit.
When building a blueberry cage, consider using materials that are easy to put together and take apart, such as PVC pipe. Secure the netting with plastic tie bands, which can be cut at the end of the season without damaging the netting. It is also important to ensure that your blueberry cage is tall enough for you to stand up inside and wide enough for you to be able to harvest the fruit once it is ready for picking. Using these types of materials you can keep your budget low as you reuse the blueberry cage year after year.
If the idea of an oversized cage in your garden makes you cringe, take heart in the knowledge that a blueberry cage doesn't have to be a permanent fixture. Since blueberries ripen mainly over a three-week period toward the end of the season, you can simply assemble the cage once you notice your fruit is ripening and dismantle it once you have harvested the berries. By doing this you can continue to protect your fruit each year while still maintaining the aesthetically pleasing look to your garden.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Kathy Bosin adds, "Remember to freeze blueberries when the season is full, so you can enjoy them all winter. Place berries on a flat baking tray in the freezer. Once frozen, pour the berries into containers or zip-top bags for freezer storage."