Netting the orchard

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Netting the orchard

Post  Mad Gnome on Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:01 pm

We are finally fed up with feeding the entire bird population around the hills with our fruit.
So, we are going to net the orchard. We were thinking of getting star droppers, polypipe to slide over, then nets to slide over the whole structure. Would that work? We'd obviously have to connect the hoops with planks of wood to avoid the hoops swaying in the wind, etc.

Are there any other suggestions? Do you have netted fruit trees? How did you do it?
We don't mind spending some money on the material but not big bucks, as the fruit is for home consumption.

All suggestions welcome!

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Re: Netting the orchard

Post  Blossom on Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:07 pm

How big a total area are you looking at? I just visited a friend in Hobart who is demolishing her cherry orchard which has massive posts to hold up the nets. This covers from what looked to me to be about an acre or two. But for a smaller venture, if you sink the posts 1/3rd into the ground and maybe put some support braces, you could go high enough with the polypipe to be able to cover a good size area. I'll get Bob to think it thorugh when you have some idea of the dimensions you are going to cover. He's the engineer fellow.
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Re: Netting the orchard

Post  robbin on Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:49 pm

I want to do the same. Seen pics of quite large areas under nets, the only way to get most of the fruit for outselves. I especially want to grow figs and quinces, cash crop as well as our own eating.

We did have the perfect answer, years ago. Bill's Irish Setter wouldn't let any bird rest, so they retreated to the tops of the trees, while he jumped and barked below. Good, we got the fruit that was low enough for us to pick easily, and the birds had the high stuff. But now we have little dogs and the birds don't have to go very high to get away from their harassment.
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Re: Netting the orchard

Post  Fran on Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:40 pm

I guess if you didn't want the bother of building a frame for netting you could just throw some shadecloth over - tie it to branches - if you use something other than green it might keep more creatures away - they'd see it for miles.
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Re: Netting the orchard

Post  Mad Gnome on Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:47 am

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I shall go out and measure the orchard this weekend. Or some time when the weather is not as cold, foggy, miserable, windy, icy, you name it we have it (except for good rain).

The orchard is not massive. Very roughly (don't quote me, I'm just guessing, I will have to measure) 4-5 metres across and 10-12 metres long. Room for 2 rows of fairly big fruit trees, with some young ones in the middle.

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Re: Netting the orchard

Post  Dee on Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:27 am

Hi Mad Gnome, I am Blossom's friend from Hobart. The idea you have would work. Just take into consideration the way the pipe would curve up the side of the trees. Will it encroach into the trees head room? You would need to buy the longest star pickets you can to offset this problem and that would increase the height of the hoop.
One advantage of using polypipe is you would not have any snagging of the netting.
We built our bird covering to go over a much bigger area but what we did would work for you too and may be worth comparing the cost with the polypipe.
What we did was to use timber poles that after they were firmly planted in the ground were still 1 metre above the top of the trees. This was because the wind causes netting to billow. Then we stretched fencing wire across and along the tops of the poles. We anchored the wire into the ground on a buried "dead man" to prevent the poles from sagging inwards. Then we put the netting on top of that.

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Re: Netting the orchard

Post  Mad Gnome on Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:46 am

Hi Dee. Thanks so much for your post. This sounds like a very solid structure. More ideas to think about.
The posts would have to be pretty long, as our trees are fully grown. The chicken wire would keep out other wildlife (hares, etc.), too, I think. Thanks again for posting here!

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Re: Netting the orchard

Post  siri on Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:50 am

My first move would be to reduce the height of your trees now, and then again just before fruiting. There is no advantage to having tall fruit trees, and shorter ones will take less netting. I think your idea will work well, but perhaps you could do several seperate nettings - maybe 2 or 3 trees per net?
Cheers, Jan
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