Introduction: Strawberry Cages

Picture of Strawberry Cages
Last year I put out some old tires I was given, and I put a layer of newspaper in the bottom then, I filled the tire with garden soil.  Then came the crowning touch of planting ever bearing strawberries.  I did this for my grandkids, who LOVE strawberries.  I wanted them to experience picking and eating truly fresh strawberries. Only I have a problem, the birds ate the strawberries before the grandkids did.  What to do?  What to do?  I know from experience that people have put nets over cherry trees to prevent birds from eating the cherries.  Maybe I could do the same type of thing.  I listed the requirements for this set up.  1) It needed to be solid enough to keep birds out yet be able to let in light and water.  2) It needed to be light and easy to remove from the plants yet easy to return to its covering position. 3) It needed to stay put when the wind was blowing. And 4) it needed to be affordable and hopefully wear for more than one growing season.  So this is what I came up with, please feel free to adapt it to your situation.

Step 1:

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Supplies:
72” (183 cm) piece of foam pipe insulation (the smallest size, 97¢ each)
12” (30cm) x 75”(190cm) of Fiberglass screen (36” x 82” piece +/- $5)
24”(60cm) diameter circle of Fiberglass screen
Stapler with staples (not shown)
Scissors
E6000 glue ($3 a tube, I finished off an old tube)
Duct Tape ($3 a roll, always have this one hand))
3 - 30” (76cm) bamboo sticks ( 6 for $2, not shown)
Hammer (not shown)
36” elastic (had on hand)
Tape measure

Step 2:

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First I took the foam pipe insulation and made the ends meet to form a circle.  I made sure the slit in the foam was on top of the circle.  I used duct tape to tape the two ends together. 

Step 3:

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Then I used my fingers to fully open the slit that is cut in the foam.  I used scissors to cut through the duct tape.

Step 4:

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I use three different types of screen material to make my cages (some was aluminum and the rest fiberglass), left over from other projects.  That is why they all look different.  Using the scissors, I cut a piece of screen material into a strip, 12 inches wide and 82 inches long. 

Step 5:

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Then I laid the foam circle on top of some other screen material and cut out a big circle with a 24”+/- diameter.

Step 6:

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I took the long strip of screen and tucked on edge of the screen into the open slit into the pipe.  I over lapped the opening and used the stapler to staple the top closed.  I ran a bead of E6000 glue along the opened edge of the foam pipe and the screen material.  I squeezed it together and let it dry for one hour.

Step 7:

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While it was drying, I stapled the screen circle to the top of the screen sides. 

Step 8:

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I discovered that I didn’t like the sharp edges left by the aluminum screen. So once the glue was dry, I turned the cage inside out, so that the rough edges would be inside the cage. 

Step 9:

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Not bad looking.  I went outside and put it on top of the strawberries, only to have it promptly be blown off.  More time thinking.

Step 10:

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I grabbed some 5’ (152cm) bamboo sticks and cut them in half.  I then grabbed my hammer and pounded them into the ground around each tire.  I them put the cage back in place.  Later I went back and one had been blown off, again.  Then I went to the sewing room and grabbed some elastic I had left over from another project.  I cut one yard (91cm) long and tied it into a loop, then I stretch the loop between the three stakes, and pushed them down to just above the top of the cage.  The cages stayed put all during the wind swept night.  Yes!  When we want to pick strawberries, just remove the elastic and the cage and pick and eat away.  I think this will work.  Enjoy!

Comments

drkstrm (author)2013-06-02

Nice work!...

question: Would taking an old hoola hoop and making in smaller, filling it with sand, and adding it to the bottom work as a ballast to keep these from flying away any better?

ironsmiter (author)drkstrm2013-06-03

steel shot would also work(or ball bearings)

Probably the simplest thing would be to use a conduit strap bolted through the tire.

when making a smaller hulu hoop... remember the plastic will only bend so far before kinking. Garden hose or a bicycle innertube would work better, if you are trying to make a small version.

RoBear613 (author)ironsmiter2014-04-21

If you fill a tube with sand, it prevents it kinking as you bend it.

realife11 (author)drkstrm2013-06-09

Good idea, but you wouldn't even need the hula hoop, you could just fill the tube (he showed above) with sand or something heavier.

craftknowitall (author)2014-03-30

I didn't pay attention because I am deathly allergic to strawberries. My grandsons ate as many as they could as often as they could.

bethmwl (author)2014-03-30

I like the concept here. I was wondering, how is your yield. I want to grow strawberries also, but in a contained manner. I've seen unsightly beds grown out of control, but I also want a lot of strawberries.

HollyHarken (author)2013-06-07

Interesting idea, but the screening won't allow bees in to pollinate the flowers so you won't get any strawberries. I'd make it out of bird netting instead, or hardware cloth with 1/2 inch squares so that the bees can get in and not the birds.

I thought of that after I made the cages. Once the berries have been picked we will remove the cages and let the bees have at it. Yeah that will work. They are easy to remove and we will keep them in the back yard shed until needed again to protect ripening berries. Thanks for your comment and for looking.

scoutsbff (author)2013-06-06

I read somewhere that old tires release some kind of poison that could cause cancer. Anyone else hear this?

dropkick (author)scoutsbff2013-06-06

A few years ago I read several studies (government and university) on the possible toxicity released from tires. I did so as I was considering building an Earthship (house built of tires, dirt and cob). I was also concerned as I planned to use tires in a similar manner as above, plus I've been using them for years to keep stock tanks from freezing (you put them in the water and the water doesn't freeze around them unless it gets REALLY cold - this is due to the sun and the black surface of the tires being heated).


I hadn't really worried about it (perhaps foolishly) until I read something on the internet. After reading the studies I wasn't worried anymore.


I just scanned the material in the link below and while it was written in a manner intended to cause people to worry it still says basically the same thing as the studies I read before -tires don't release any toxins in an amount that is high enough to worry about.



P.S. And if you're going to worry about the fact that it does release or contain some toxins (no matter how small the amounts) then you might as well just panic about everything, because almost everything contains and releases toxins. All the way from the paint on your walls to the tap water to the organic foods you grow in your garden. Almost everything contains some form of toxin that if taken in great enough amount would kill you.

craftknowitall (author)dropkick2013-06-07

Thanks, I haven't been too worried, because ground up tires are used in play ground as cushioning and my Mom used tired to grow more than one thing in, when I was growing up. None of us have had anything that would be connected to toxins from tires. I'm approaching 60 years. My Mom turns 80 this month and my dad died at age 83. Thanks for commenting and looking.

Eye Poker (author)scoutsbff2013-06-06

Here is a report on tire toxicity. Your mileage may vary:

http://www.ehhi.org/reports/turf/health_effects.shtml

MyBoyBuddy (author)2013-06-07

Fishing net works great! No staples, no sharp edges. Just a small groove cut into the bamboo stakes or whatever kind of stakes you will use to attach the net to the post. Also bailing twine works wonders! JMHO

BluTiger (author)2013-06-07


Does any one think of toxic chemicals leeching into the plants. Tires are made with petroleum and other chemicals. I wouldn't use anything other then food grade.

craftknowitall (author)2013-06-02

It might. Depends upon the total final weight and the speed of the winds. Why don't you try and let me know how it goes. This is one of those experiment things. Once the strawberries are ripened and eaten, then I will remove the cage until another batch gets ready to ripen. Yeah that will work. Thanks for looking and commenting.

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