Introduction: Strawberry Cages

About: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.
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:

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)
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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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

Step 8:

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:

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:

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!
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