Protect crops from pests

Invest in a fruit cage and get your reward with higher yields.

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If you’re a keen fruit grower, or wish to add a tasty range of fruits to your plot, you’ll do well to consider a nigh-on essential piece of equipment – a fruit cage.

Whether you have a large or small plot, varying sizes of fruit cage enable you to produce higher yields of crops, simply due to protection from large pests who will nibble any delicious fruit they can find. Deer, rabbits and pigeons are usually the culprits.

It's fruit ripening season – currants, cherries, raspberries, gooseberries, more strawberries – all are ripe for picking, but need protecting well. You can either get a very fine mesh net or steel cage with a removable roof to allow access to pollinators at flowering time, or invest in a mesh that has holes of around 3cm (3/4in) wide so that bees and other pollinators can enter to pollinate your fruit, but crucially, no pests!

There are a number of reasonable retailers online, some more pricey than others, depending on the size of your cage, too. Garden centres and nurseries are good sources, and may be able to advise as to the best size and material for your project. You can, of course, simply buy some fruit cage netting (try www.wmjames.co.uk, tel: 01308 425100) and erect your own thrifty construction from wooden supports, tightly secured with the net. A typical height is 2m, so you can freely walk around inside, though smaller crops won’t need this. Gravel boards or chicken wire buried underground (as with chicken coops) may keep out digging rabbits.

Aesthetics are down to you – fancy a beautiful, domed feature, or don’t mind a bit of an eyesore, as long as your fruit are safe? Both do the job. As for the worst affected fruit, blueberries, whitecurrants and redcurrants are usually loved the most by discerning nibblers as they’re the sweetest, but they like other fruit such as gooseberries and blackcurrants too.