Our vision over the next 2 years is to increase the number of Maryland food gardeners by 1 million. This blog is a place where contributors across the state can report what is happening in local gardens. Followers can view current growing conditions in their area.
This is the last post of the Grow It Eat It blog. But don't worry--our gardening adventure is not over! We're just changing, consolidating, and improving, and you can keep reading at our new blog, Maryland Grows.
At Maryland Grows you'll not only be able to read posts about food gardening under the Grow It Eat It tab, but also get information about other aspects of home gardening, like lawns and ornamental plants. You'll also find that all the Grow It Eat It posts from the beginning in 2009 to the present have been moved to the new blog. They'll also remain archived at this location, so if you have something bookmarked or have added a GIEI link to your own website, no need to change that.
I've thoroughly enjoyed shepherding the Grow It Eat It blog from late in its first year onwards, from scrappy beginnings to a source read by thousands every month. Thanks for being part of that! I'll still be writing for Maryland Grows once a month, but am happy to turn editing duties over to Home and Garden Information Center staff. This is going to be a great blog with many interesting posts and lots of relevant information, so please visit, sign up for an email subscription, or like the Home and Garden Information Center on Facebook or Twitter to find out about new posts--whatever works best for you. You won't want to miss a single one!
I'm grateful to all the great Master Gardener and Extension writers here at Grow It Eat It. We've had a fun time learning and teaching about food gardening and telling stories about our experiences. So many plants were grown over the years--successfully or not--and so many meals were created from them. That's my favorite part of growing food, of course, that you get to eat it!
I'll go out by noting that (like these tomatoes I just harvested) the products of our gardens are colorful, delicious, and not free from flaws--just like the kind of journey that blog writers and readers make together, trying new things, making mistakes, and always hoping for a perfect garden next year. Thank you. --Erica
Long-time readers may remember that last year, after about fifteen years of successful blueberry harvests (meaning that the birds got no more than about twenty percent of the berries), I harvested absolutely none. Those I consulted who are in the know said that catbird populations were way up, and certainly they are fond of blueberries.
With the thought that all those well-fed birds likely had lots of babies, and would be back, I decided to take on the challenge of protecting a row of blueberry bushes that are part of my front yard landscaping, surrounded by other plants. I drove some rebar into the ground at intervals of several feet, put pieces of PVC pipe on top of them, and capped those with some pipe caps we had sitting around from a previous fencing project. Then when the flowering was done and the berries forming, I covered the whole thing with a big piece of Micromesh. (Link is to Gardener's Edge, which is one place you can find this product. I have also bought it from Territorial Seed, but they don't currently seem to have the 16'x16' size I needed. I don't mean to promote any particular product or company over others, so if anyone knows other sources, or other similar products, please leave a link in the comments.)
Micromesh has advantages over bird netting and floating row cover. It doesn't tangle like bird netting, and it is tougher than row cover, unlikely to tear with reasonable use. Also, plants under it don't heat up as they can even under lightweight floating row cover. The only disadvantage is that it makes an awkward and kinda ugly intrusion in the landscape:
But who really cares as long as you get blueberries, right? I'll be able to take it off when the fruit is done, and maybe next year I can make it look a bit better. Here's a closeup:
I've fastened the Micromesh to the pipes with the snap clamps you can buy for the purpose. And I have indeed been harvesting plenty of blueberries:
Two birds (both cardinals, a male and a female) found their way under the covering, and I had to let them out, but as far as I know those are all the incursions.
By the way, I also lost all my black raspberries last year (again for the first time), and meant to get the newly-organized planting netted this year, but didn't get around to it. So I tied up a bunch of that shiny red-and-silver tape that is supposed to keep birds away because they think something's on fire. Ha, no way. Birds are smarter than that. A friend says she is having good luck with one of those fake owls, so I may try that next. And come October I will look for some of the motion-activated Halloween decorations to bring out again in June. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.