How is your fruit doing this year? If the birds got there first, you may consider a fruit cage for next year! Smallholder Tracy Angove from North Devon made her own. See our Christmas issue for Tracy’s step-by-step guide

Tracy says: “Our main self sufficiency project after moving to North Devon was to prepare and plant a fruit and vegetable garden. We had some pruning to do first and cut back some overgrown hedges to let the light in. On digging the vegetable patch we found a hoard of empty champagne bottles and dug up a small army of broken tin soldiers! These were soon replaced with potatoes, carrots, beans and onions. We dedicated an area to a few raised beds into which we planted strawberries, raspberries, currants, blueberries and gooseberries as well as lilies and dahlias for cut flowers. “The first summer’s fruit crop was very quickly gorged on by a constant barrage of blackbirds and thrushes! Prepared for battle, the second summer’s crop was protected with the jam jars we had hoped to fill with the first summers’ fruit! The birds stayed away from the strawberries but the slugs moved in! Our third summer, we netted our crops. Damp weather meant that the slugs had multiplied and the blackbirds penetrated all the nets! This was now an all-out war against all fruit munching critters as this abundant fruit crop was meant for human consumption! “After watching a few spirited episodes of The Good Life, and with a little ingenuity, we designed one which budgeted out to around £200. This is what we did during our Christmas holiday!”See our Christmas issue for Tracy’s styep-by-step guide.

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