Friday, 28 May 2010


Another big task this week has been to build a cage over the strawberries to protect the fruit from birds, since my first strawberry is ripening rapidly!

I must also buy some straw very soon for mulch. I invested in these plastic mulch mats which were cheap in Wilkinsons, but they curl up in the rain, blow away in the wind, and do a sterling job of collecting as much soil as possible under and around the strawberries, when they should be keeping the fruits OFF the soil! They will be going in the bin.

Anyway, back to the cage.

We wanted to make it a kind of self-contained single unit, that we could just tilt up and lean on the compost bins or next-plot's fruit cage when we wanted to get at the strawberries instead of messing about pegging netting to the ground, which always involves battling with weeds, losing pegs, tearing the net and so on.

So I bought these 'build-a-balls', which looked simple and effective enough and are highly reviewed pretty much everywhere...

But am I the only person that thinks they're rubbish?

If you're going to invest £40+ in the made-to-measure aluminium tubes to construct your cage, I'm sure they work just fine, but don't go naively thinking you can just use any old garden canes to build with these, like the picture and the catalogues and the websites all SAY you can. I've got a lot of canes on my plot. A LOT. And could I find eight whose ends - both ends - fitted in the build-a-ball holes? No siree.

We got our cage built in the end, after much trial and error, sawing and carving of ends, and cursing, but it's not as sturdy as it should be and several of the joints keep popping apart and will need some kind of additional fixing. No More Nails in each hole, perhaps. Or electrical tape. Aaah, the things you can do with electrical tape. Next time I will save the cash and just join the canes with electrical tape instead.

And don't even get me started on how much fun it was to tie the bird netting onto the bottom canes with string all the way round...


Amy said...

Oh No! I was starting to think those balls would be the answer to my brassica and butterfly problem but after reading this I think I'll just build a wooden frame.

My strawberries are coming along but think they are a little way off ripening yet. I'll be reading enviously when you get that first one.

Carolyn said...

I agree, they are useless. I had exactly the same problem with canes - the end is either too thick to fit, or too thin and falls out.

Waste of money as I now use them either to prevent your eyes from being poked out by a cane, or to prevent the cane from poking through netting.


Zeb said...

Old tennis balls or buy them cheap from a £ shop !!!

make slits with a stanley knife just big enough to grip your canes

Green Lane Allotments said...

I was only just thinking that our strawberries needs mulching and netting as some flowers have just set - not as far on as yours though - the frost slowed things down.

We use some timber lathes to build our frames which are used year after year. We cab just lift the frame off the pick.

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