Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What are my chances?

I have a seedless 'Red Flame' grapevine growing over an arbor at the back of my dry garden, near the steps to my back slope.  Last year, I took these pictures of the ripening grapes on June 11th.



One week later, I took these pictures:



I knew I was pushing my luck last year but there were so many grapes I thought that surely the critters wouldn't eat them all before they were ripe.  But they pretty much did.

This year, my grapes are still very green but, once again, there's a plentiful supply on the vines.



I've been trying to come up with something that might keep the birds and raccoons from picking the stems clean without the cumbersome process of netting the entire arbor.  Today, while shopping for groceries, I found some inexpensive, reusable net bags.  They're intended for use in keeping vegetables in the refrigerator but I picked them up on spec to see if they might be helpful in protecting my grapes.



My husband thinks my chances of success are low.  And I'd need to buy many more bags just to protect the largest clumps of grapes.



What do you think?  Is it worth a try?  Have you found ways to protect your fruit as it ripens?

I haven't even begun to think about what to do about the persimmons.



All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

25 comments:

  1. This post is right up my alley!

    First, the only animal that eats my persimmons is Audubon's warbler. I can't explain why yours get eaten by rodents. We do have raccoons in the yard.

    Second. Grapes. Exactly. Like. Mine. Same species as well. Here today, gone tomorrow. I want to try those bags on the grapes I can reach. I have never had grapes, although I have had grape vines for years.

    Where did you buy those bags? What store? I have been looking for them for my tomatoes. The little ex-onion string bag has worked so far. Perfect tomatoes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I picked up the bags in the produce section at Von's, Jane. They're big enough to comfortably fit a large stem of grapes (or tomatoes) and they have a drawstring at the top, which makes them easy to use. I knotted the strings after closing the bags around the stems to make their removal by any clever raccoon more difficult.

      Re the persimmons, the birds do go after them but, based on broken branches on the tree, it appears that the raccoons and squirrels are willing to take a taste too.

      Delete
  2. You reminded me that I bought some of those bags but I think they are better put to use on your fruit than in the fridge. Vegs dried out just the same. The only thing I have used is the net bags from the onions. I would use them around cantaloupes to keep the varmints away. I save them through the year. Alas, this year no cantaloupes. I hope you manage to save your crop but I guess they are the perfect snack for a thirsty critter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry to hear there's no cantaloupe this year - I'm guessing that you lost those to that horrific hailstorm too. The critters here have become more aggressive as the drought goes on - even taking all my sugar snap peas just as the seedlings broke through the soil. I've got birdseed and water available - and they can have all the gauvas they want - but that doesn't seem to be enough.

      Delete
  3. Definitely worth a try Kris. Sometimes even minimal deterrents are good enough to keep the birds away. Not sure about raccoons though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's the raccoons we're most worried about, especially as they do their foraging under cover of night.

      Delete
  4. It's certainly worth a try - I've also heard that brown paper bags work in dry sunny climates (despite keeping a lot of sunlight out) as well as old onion bags...here's hoping to at least one bunch of grapes for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm surprised to hear that brown paper bags may work, Matt - I'll have to conduct an experiment with various forms of protection to see what works.

      Delete
  5. Yes, my father-in-law uses brown paper bags (the thin kind) to keep out the birds and wasps, but we don't have raccoons here. The opaque bags do not affect ripening as the grapes hang down under the vine in the shade anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another vote for brown paper bags - I'll definitely give those a try too. Thanks!

      Delete
  6. It's worth a try! Pesky raccoons!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be SO nice to harvest ripe grapes from our own vine! I cut some of the remaining partially ripe grapes the critters left behind last year but they didn't ripen any further once removed from the vine.

      Delete
  7. Why does your husband think it won't work? Looks perfectly ingenious to me! A neighbor has a hazelnut that overhangs the back of our lot. The pesky squirrels eat the nuts before their ready for human consumption.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the problem with the birds too - they apparently have poor taste buds and therefore no compunction about eating grapes before they ripen, My husband believes nothing can stop a hungry raccoon and their prior rampages through my garden lend some credence to his apprehension.

      Delete
  8. I think the net bags are a great idea. Let us know what happens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will do. I need to get some more bags too!

      Delete
  9. I wish you success! The bags will surely keep the birds away, but as others have said, I'm less sure about the raccoons. As for the persimmons, I have no idea. I never had fruit trees or grapes or anything like that because of the deer. Now that we're getting a fence, it's finally possible. I need to think about where to put those kinds of things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't begrudge the critters a portion of what my garden produces - I just wish they'd leave me some. I haven't developed a taste for persimmons myself but the fruits are so attractive I'd like to see at least some reach maturity on the 2 trees I inherited with the garden.

      Delete
  10. Please keep us posted on the results, Kris! I don't have any grapes vines yet, but it would be tempting - as long as there is some way to ensure we get some grapes! Our orange tree is fairly straightforward to net, but the apricots weren't and were therefore a near-complete loss to the finches. I'm thinking about cutting swags of bird netting for the tomatoes...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not growing tomatoes this year but, in the 2 years I did, I didn't lose many to the birds, squirrels and raccoons even though they weren't covered. It may be the deepening drought is making the critters less picky. I hope you're successful in protecting yours.

      Delete
  11. I think between net bags and paper bags you ought to be able to "rescue" enough grapes to at least get a taste for yourselves. Perhaps you should leave a few low clumps unwrapped so the raccoons will have some focus for raids other than the puzzle of your protected fruit.

    I read somewhere long ago that an enterprising gardener devised a spray of watered down hot sauce they used on ripening fruit to discourage rodents. Birds don't experience pepper heat, but raccoons, squirrels and orchard rats definitely do. I'm not sure what the long term results were but if the racoons "learned" your grapes are hot maybe they'd leave them alone in future? It's all about the war, not the individual battles, right? : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard that about hot pepper treatments too. Maybe I'll try adding that treatment to the mix to see if it makes a difference.

      Delete
  12. You have some well-fed critters! I think I would try a multi-warhead approach, using the bags, some rubber snakes, an owl with a swiveling head, a motion detector that sprays water at the offender….all these and you will get at least a handful of grapes! Best wishes! (And I am sincerely hoping the squirrels won't discover my own persimmon trees, which are laden with fruit this year!)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Instead of netting the whole fig tree I've started just netting the figs that begin to ripen. Works great. We got almost all the figs last year. I would think they would work on grapes, too--only way to find out is to try.

    What I really, really want is a squirrel launcher.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Not fun with fruit thieves, that could probably work but it will probably take longer to mature
    best regards
    Mariana

    ReplyDelete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.