You’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into creating the perfect veggie garden this year. As you’re out giving the garden its daily water, inspection and TLC, you notice your tomatoes, which were just small, bright green orbs yesterday, have taken on some red and orange hues. Then you spot a heart-sinking sight, a cluster of tomatoes that looks like something has taken a bite out of each one. After some of your own covert ops, you discover the culprit is birds. “Help! Birds are eating my tomatoes!” Continue reading to learn how to protect tomato plants from birds.
Keeping Birds Away from Tomatoes
It’s not always easy to keep birds, especially mockingbirds, from eating your ripening tomatoes. When you understand that birds occasionally eat these juicy fruits simply because they are thirsty, controlling this problem becomes a little easier. Placing a bird bath in the garden may be effective for keeping birds away from tomatoes. You can also go a step further and create an alternate garden specifically for the birds with bird baths, bird feeders, and plants (viburnum, serviceberry, coneflower) that birds can freely feed upon. Sometimes it’s better to accommodate nature than to fight it. You can also provide birds with a sacrificial decoy tomato plant that they are allowed to eat, while you protect the tomato plants you want for yourself.
Protecting Tomato Plants from Birds
Most garden centers carry bird netting to protect fruits and veggies from birds. This bird netting needs to be placed over the whole plant to prevent birds from getting caught up in it and anchored down well so they cannot get under it. You can also build cages from wood and chicken wire to protect tomato plants from birds. I’ve written in the past about placing nylon or mesh around seed heads to collect seeds. Nylon or mesh can also be wrapped around fruits to prevent birds from eating them. Birds are easily frightened by things that move, spin, light up or reflect. Shiny whirligigs, chimes, aluminum pie pans, old CDs, or DVDs can be hung from fishing line around plants that you want to keep birds away from. Some gardeners suggest keeping birds away from tomatoes by creating a web of fishing line or reflective tape over and around the plants. You can also use flashing Christmas lights or hang shiny Christmas ornaments on the plants to scare birds away. Your neighbors may think you're crazy for decorating your tomato plants like a Christmas tree in midsummer, but you may yield enough of a harvest to share with them.
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