This project is OPEN for 2020
Strawberries are a very popular plant, with delicious fruit, a long cropping season and strong association with lazy summer days. Unfortunately we are not the only ones with a taste for strawberries, and birds can cause a lot of damage to a crop as they feed.
A few projects from Sussex University in previous years have used strawberries. Feedback from Buzzing Balconies participants suggested that bird damage can be such a problem for some gardens to put them off growing strawberries altogether!
Birds are fantastic garden visitors and we don't want to do anything that might hurt them, so we need safe deterrants against avian avarice.
Netting plants is a common anti-bird strategy (but can be expensive and tricky to put up), but some of our volunteers have also suggested a crafty home remedy using painted stones to trick birds. Birds have excellent colour vision and learn quickly, so it might be possible to train them to leave your strawberries alone.
Does it work? Join in with the Buzz Club to find out!
Your strawberry rocks can be as realistic as you like, or just plain red / green! Rocks here painted by Summerwood after school group.
Taking part in the project
To be a part of 'Strawberries rock!' you will need:
At least one strawberry plant *.
Enough strawberry-sized rocks to have at least
three per plant.
Acrylic paint (either red or green); easily be found in
large supermarkets, online or in craft shops.
Small paint brushes (unless you use spray paint).
Compost (peat free if possible).
Craft varnish / clear nail varnish (if you have it).
* This can be an existing plant or a new plant.
You can use more than one strawberry plant if you are able to but you need to number them to keep track!
Participants will be split randomly into two groups **
Group 1 will paint their main stones red, and place them around their plants, before fruiting starts.
Group 2 will paint their main stones green. This is the 'control group', and it is very important to have this to compare to, or we can't work out if the red stones work or not!
** Note - you can also do the other colour of rock, as well as the one you are assigned, but this second group must be far away from your main group (e.g. on the other side of your house) so you don't confuse the birds.
When your plants have started making fruit, once a week please count:
1) The number of ripe strawberries on the plant(s), and how many you have picked.
2) The number of unripe strawberries on the plants(s).
We have a results sheet to make this easier to remember (below):
Red strawberry rocks in situ around a strawberry plant.
Green strawberry rocks in situ around a strawberry plant.
Red strawberries - rock and real - from last year, planted at the Lymington & Pennington allotments (2019).