How to set up fruit tree netting with no help
November 19, 2018
When your fruit trees commence production of enough fruit for the family to enjoy (and prior) the trees will begin to be targeted by birds, bats and possums. These pests will all be keen to get your harvest before you do. Netting the trees will help to ensure your family get to harvest and enjoy the fruit.
Last year was the first year I netted the trees and it resulted in the first decent harvest of apricots. I am keen to see the juice of stone-fruit dribbling down the face of my children after they have grabbed their after school snack off the tree this year with fruit from the apple, and peach trees joining the apricot again.
I have under-planted with companion plants to attract beneficial insects and deter pests like coddling moth. In a bid to increase our harvests as the young trees mature. I have googled, looked over fences and researched various structures and I keep coming back to a traditional structure for netting with hooped pipes used as a support for the net. This is easy to pack up at the end of the season and store for next year. It is lightweight, and much easier and cheaper than than building an enclosed wooden structure.
It is not a difficult process if you follow the simple steps below.
I did it by myself this year, no help. I know for sure that if I can do it, you can too because I am not very handy with tools. I did bash my hand with the hammer while setting up my nets but aside from that (and my naughty puppy) it was pretty easy!
Once both ends are stabilised and well positioned add additional ties to each piece of conduit to ensure it will remain in place and is forming a dome position over the tree.
Tip: If the tree is large secure the conduits with one tie in the middle so it forms a + before securing it to the hardwood posts. This is tricky to manoeuvre with one person.
If the tree is small you can secure the top of the frame in the middle once both pieces are attached to the posts. If it is too high to reach and unable to be done on your own, I suggest instead creating a hoop frame shape instead of a dome, running the conduit horizontal between the stakes instead of from one side to the other. You can see an example of both in the images below.
Ensure the conduit is higher than the tallest branches or when you push the netting over the top you will end up knocking off a lot of fruit as the branches are disturbed.
4. Roll the netting out along the edge of the trees and then pull it up and over the top of the frame to cover entirely. Use a stake or broom handle to push it over the top if you need to.
5. Once the netting is over the frame, roll the edges under at the bottom and secure around it at regular intervals with the weed mat pins.
6. If there are gaps that will allow access under the netting consider using bricks or placing pots around the base also,or instead of the mat pins.
Tip: If you have a puppy or dog consider a barrier around the base of the netting such as containers or wood planks. Our puppy thinks the netting is her newest toy and I keep find her inside the nets or pulling at them. I am still working on sorting this out but so far containers placed around some areas are keeping her out. She has ripped one of the nets so I’ve had to re-secured it with the cable ties used to secure tomatoes. I will monitor and see how it goes.
The ideal scenario is that the netting is firm and secure all the way around to prevent birds or animals being trapped in it.
All materials should be readily available from a large hardware store, or farm supply store. You can ask them to cut the conduit to size for you if required.
Remove all fallen fruit from around the base of your trees as part of the set up preparation. Put them into the compost. Rotting fruit will attract animals you are trying to exclude.
Remember to continue watering your trees over Summer while the netting is in place. Pull up the weed mat pins in one section to gain easy access, or simply water through the netting.
If you have any dog proofing tips to share I’d love to hear them!
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