Garden netting is a pain in the ass to set up, but I do it every year because if I don’t, the birds get all the blueberries and raspberries, and after letting them have the cherries I draw the line. (I also like blueberries and raspberries a lot better than cherries.)

Usually I string ropes across the enclosed beds and drape the netting over whichever plot needs protection, then move to the next plot as the berries ripen. But this year the raspberries and blueberries have decided to ripen at the same time, so yesterday I set the net up over the raspberries and then off I went to the nursery to get a second net. It’s been quite a few years since I bought the one we have, so I vaguely thought it cost around fifty or sixty dollars.

Nope. With tax, over a hundred dollars.

I got it, but it was STRONGLY suggested to me when I got home that I should see if the existing net would stretch over the top of the entire enclosed garden. So today I went out to see if it did.

I don’t know why I’d never tested this before—it’s the logical thing to do, after all—but I never had. Guess what? Although it was a major pain to get in position, because I had to get it set just right relative to the net fencing, and it catches on everything from the ties holding up the fencing to the tomato cages to the bushes, and let’s not talk about the pole beans grabbing at it, it turned out that it does in fact fit over the entire garden. Hurrah!

netting over garden

But this is why I don’t like netting, despite needing to use it: when I hauled up the net to rearrange it, a bird came with it. I’m pretty sure this is a female Black-headed Grosbeak. It was obvious that she’d gotten tangled quite recently, because she was certainly feisty. I went in and got the bandage scissors (great for rescuing things trapped in netting!) and then took hold of her and moved to cut her free.

She grabbed the scissors in her beak and. Would. Not. Let. Go. And I could not dislodge her grip.

But eventually she gave up, and I freed the scissors. At which point she whipped her head around and latched on to my finger.

Good grip, grosbeaks. Gotta have a good grip if you’ve going to crush tough seeds.

It was easier to let her bite me than deal with her interference, so basically she chomped on me the whole time I was cutting her free, which took quite some time as the netting was partly hidden under feathers and I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave any bits around her body. But I did it, eventually, and she flew off with a really irritated squawk. And then I had to repair the hole I’d made.


There were a lot of holes to repair, actually. I use string and kind of weave the bits together; it’s not elegant but it works, more or less. Maybe I need to read up on fishnet making or something.

I do wish I didn’t need to use netting at all, but I also do love my berries. I’m hoping this arrangement of soft netting over the top is less of a bird trap than it is when the fine netting drapes down to the ground in tangle-y folds. That would definitely be an added benefit to the new arrangement. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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