How To Prevent Bird Damage to Tomato Plants
There is nothing more disheartening to wake up one morning and find your tomato harvest ravaged by birds. The ripening tomatoes easily catch the eye of birds and appear easy pickings.
Most gardeners will have to contend with this problem sooner or later or else risk losing a large amount of their harvest to passing birds.
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent bird damage to your tomato plants and the good thing is they are inexpensive.
In some cases, it is just a matter of caging tomatoes rather than staking them during their growing period.
Caging tomatoes also have the advantage of preventing excessive water lagging on the growing leaves and therefore reduces the possibility of blight developing.
They also help reduce other diseases from developing and help the plant produce more foliage. This often results in healthier plants and full harvests due to less possibilities of bird damage.
You can buy a cage or make your own cage. If you buy one, make sure it is large enough to comfortably house the variety of tomato you are growing.
Ideally, you should have the cage in place during the final transplant as this will reduce the amount of work involved. Once the plants are in the ground you can cover the cage with clear plastic and monitor its growth.
Build A Scarecrow
If you prefer to stake your tomato vines rather than cage them, you can always build a scarecrow.
The scarecrow is a good temporary measure at scaring the birds away, although as they get used to it they will be brave enough to venture into your garden and help themselves to the ripening fruit.
If you are lucky, the scarecrow will be effective long enough for the fruit to ripen and for you to harvest it.
Install a Noisemaker
Another method that can work is a noisemaker. It is a similar principle to a scarecrow, but instead of being visible, it simply makes a noise that scares the birds away.
There is no guarantee this will always work, but if you are lucky it can scare the birds away long enough for you to harvest the crop.
Another simple method of preventing bird damage to tomato plants is to make use of old nylon stockings. Simply cut the stockings into lengths of about 12 inches and tie a knot in one end.
You should stretch the other end over the plants and secure them in place with a twist tie.
The nylon will prevent birds from getting to the ripening fruit and all you need to do is remove it when the fruit has ripened.
There are other materials like bird netting that are available from gardening stores. These materials provide similar levels of protection as birds are unable to get through to get the fruit. However, nylon stockings are cheaper and just as effective.
Overall Preventative Measures
Overall, there are plenty of preventative measures available to prevent bird damage to tomato plants and ensure a bountiful harvest.
If you do not want to take any preventative measures, the only real option left is to harvest the fruit before it becomes ripe.
The birds are more attracted to ripening fruit and rarely go for green tomatoes.
If you do harvest the fruit early, you can always place the tomatoes in a drawer alongside a banana to help them ripen.