Behold my strawberries, those 200 precious bare root plants I've been pampering and babying and which with I'm finally achieving a measure of success.
Night before last the deer got to them.
I tell you, it is a constant struggle to succeed on a homestead. Yes we have fences up, but clearly they weren't high enough to deter an ungulate in search of a snack. Probably a third of my beloved starter strawberries look like this:
More than a dozen plants were simply yanked out and left exposed, roots and all.
They're all salvageable, thank God. I soaked the pulled-out plants briefly to rehydrate the roots and then replanted everything. I originally was going to let one bed of strawberries blossom and fruit (as opposed to pinching off all the first-year flowers), but after seeing this pathetic specimen...
...I knew I had to let the plants spend their energy re-growing leaves rather than forming fruit. So I pinched off all the blossoms.
Okay, time to cover the strawberries. We purchased some bird netting...
...and began assembling a frame to hold it up.
We tied the tops of the sticks together...
...and then connected them with string tied to a nail at the end of the bed. This kept all the sticks braced and in place.
Next we unrolled the netting and draped it over the frame.
We anchored the netting with lightweight PCV poles (actually, we used the cows' pushpoles, so we'll have to get more for pushing cows around).
All this took about two hours yesterday evening, but we knew we had to get the strawberries buttoned up before nightfall or the deer would be back.
As of this morning, success. No more damage. Now the strawberries can recover in peace.
Honestly, if it ain't one thing it's another around here.