Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Protection–Fencing Fruit Trees

HPIM8231Whenever you have vegetables or fruit growing you always get animals around that love to partake of your produce. Usually for myself, I like to grow enough to cover both my family and those animals that would like a bite or two. With fruit trees, this is even easier as during the harvest I usually need the animals to pick up the fallen fruit to prevent disease. My problem right now however is that my trees are still quite young and so when deer come and eat the young shoots, my trees do not grow any larger. HPIM8232This leads to little fruit to harvest and each year my trees stay the same size (which will eventually train the trees to be small instead of medium sized fruit trees). My solution is to build fences around the trees. Therefore, I went down to Home Depot and picked up a 50-foot roll of welded wire fence. I have four trees so each tree will get a 12 1/2 foot long fence, which using circumference=pi*diameter, means that I will have a 4 foot diameter fence. This is small enough that the deer have little to no room to land inside the fence. In addition, at this stage of the tree’s development, that will be enough space for a year or two’s growth. I hope that by that time they will have grown enough that they will not need the fences and the deer can still take a nibble or two without stunting the growth of the tree.

HPIM8233So if you want to build your own fence make sure you have a tape measure, wire cutters, some good-sized rocks and bailing wire to tie the seams together. I found that when I cut the wire, since the fence has been stored in a tight roll, it preferred to roll itself back up. To help me measure I placed a rock on the end while I unrolled the length I needed; I then cut the wire halfway between the vertical wires. Without the rocks it would roll itself back up and the momentum would keep it rolling with me chasing after it. To make this simpler, you could unroll the entire fence a few days early so that it is not quite so springy. In the end, I found that if I just bend backwards a little in the last one foot of fence it would roll together into the round fence shape that I was looking for to go around my trees. HPIM8236To hold the fence together, clip a bit of bailing wire and wrap it around every fourth horizontal wire to close the seam of the fence. Try to make sure that when you twist them that they are facing inwards as they will catch on passing clothing as you work near your fences. I was able to build the fences on the ground because my trees are still quite small and could then lift the fence over them. However, if your trees are a bit more mature then you will need to close the seam while holding the fence upright. HPIM8237To help it remain vertical, I find that starting at the top and working down is the most helpful in this case. Another helpful thought is to put enough mulch around the base of the tree that you do not really have to worry about weeding it, as you will need to replace the bailing wire each time you open the seam in the fence. Anyway, now I have my trees protected and with a bit of luck this spring will bring some lasting growth (and perhaps a fruit or two). Happy gardening!

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