Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Scare Crows and other Natural bird control for gardens

I just spent a fantastic week in Michigan visiting my husband's family. We spent a few days at Rick and Jane's cabin on Torch Lake and then drove down to Burt to spend the rest of the time with Dutch and Dorothy.

Dorothy is one of the people that helped my husband Tom and I learn a lot about organic gardening. She has beautiful gardens of flowers and fruits and vegetables and the trees in her yard are home to what seems like hundreds of varieties of bird species.

Although Dutch and Dorothy love the birds, they aren't real happy with the fact that the birds often beat them to their strawberries and raspberries.

To try to cut down on the problem, Dorothy and I spent a few hours making this GORGEOUS scarecrow-ess, which we named Bertha. Bertha was fairly easy to construct. We used a screw gun to screw a cross-piece on an old slat from a wooden fence to serve as Bertha's shoulders. We then found an old discarded piece of chicken wire which we wrapped around the fence slat and molded a little to form Bertha's body. The face was created with acryllic paints and the clothes and wig were found in a bag of castoffs headed for the thrift store. Her arms were stuffed with empty beer cans (which were surprisingly easy to find with my husband there visiting). And the flag was added for the Fourth of July.

I know Bertha looks a little stern, but she is a nature lover like me, and really doesn't like the idea of chasing away the birds.

Dorothy was inspired to create a scarecrow after receiving a photo of this scarecrow pair that her sister, Glennie Duke and husband Jim, had made for their Arkansas gardens. I'm sure that passersby enjoy this playful pair as much as I do.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension website offers these additional tips for deterring birds from your fruit plants:

Pest Control. Birds are one of the biggest pests in the strawberry planting. It may be necessary to cover the plants with plastic netting to keep the crop from being eaten before the berries are ripe enough to harvest. Aluminum pie tins, suspended by a string or wire above the plants in such manner that they twist and turn in the breeze, may be successful in keeping birds away.

I checked with local organic gardeners Brian and Linda of Miolea Organic Farm** in Adamson to see what they use to deter the birds.

"On the strawberries, service berry, black and red raspberries we use the scare-eye. It's a yellow ball with black and red circle. For the blue berries and vegetables we use deer netting and or floating row covers."

Have you found other humane ways to protect your fruits and veggies from the birds and other wildlife? If so, let us know!

** Miolea Organic Farms also sells Certified Organic Fertilizer (5-3-4) for the home gardener. $2.00/lb. And CORN GLUTEN - Certified Organic-Non-GMO. Great for lawns and as a weed supressant. $2.50/lb. 20 lbs covers 1,000 sq.ft

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