You can spend hours in the garden waiting for your tomatoes to ripen. Then, one afternoon you notice a flock of birds has wiped out your crop and left you with nothing to harvest. Learning how to keep birds away from tomatoes will ensure the work you out in actually turns into a healthy harvest of tomatoes!
What You'll Learn Today
Bird Issues In The Garden
Birds are a welcome feature in the homestead unless of course, you have an unprotected garden. Without the proper protections in places, you can lose your entire crop of tomatoes to a flock of wild birds.
They’ll peck at bugs and the tomatoes themselves, ruining the hard work you’ve put in over the growing season. So, what can you put around tomato plants to keep animals away?
There are a few measures that you can take on the homestead to reduce the risk of birds eating your tomatoes. Some are low tech and cheap while others are in-depth permanent options that may be necessary if the birds in your area are relentless.
Options To Keep Birds Away From Tomatoes
When learning how to keep birds from eating seedlings and mature tomato plants with ripened fruit, you’ll read about all kinds of tips and tricks that may or may not work.
Here is a list of the 5 most common and effective ways to keep the birds out of your garden so you get to harvest the tomatoes for yourself!
1. Reflective Tape
The most basic way to try and keep birds away from tomatoes is using reflective tape or ribbon on the plants. The sun hits the reflective material as it blows in a breeze and scares away the birds.
However, this tends to be less effective over time, especially with more intelligent species of birds. It may work for those who only have bird pressure for a couple of weeks at the peak of harvesting.
What about wind chimes? Do wind chimes keep birds away? Just like a reflective surface, unrecognizable sounds can scare birds away as well. If they are reflective, you get a double dose of scaring.
But, just like the reflective ribbon, it’ll lose effectiveness when the birds get used to the noise and reflections.
2. Create A Sacrificial Bird Garden
Birds that just won’t stay out of the garden may make you decide to plant out a bird garden with sacrificial crops that they are meant to eat. If you want to keep birds around for the blissful bird songs, you can try to relocate them to a garden spot like this.
Encouraging more bird activity with birdbaths and birdhouses in this area will help draw them from the garden. Plant crop varieties that the birds seem to enjoy and plant other bird-friendly plants like sunflowers.
This bird garden is a good distraction from your main garden and might be enough to keep the birds away from your tomatoes. Or, if it still doesn’t do the trick, try some of the other methods mentioned.
3. Build Cages
Bird proof tomato cages are a great option for those homesteaders growing dwarf and determinate varieties of tomatoes. Since indeterminate varieties climb tall trellises, surrounding them with cages isn’t as practical.
Cages can be built out of welded wire or something more affordable like chicken wire. Building cages that fit over a planter box or the entire garden bed if they are in-ground.
Keeping the structure lightweight will make it easier to remove them when it’s time to harvest. Just ensure they are so light that birds can tip them over.
4. Use Bird Netting
Using netting to protect tomatoes from birds may be the most popular method of keeping birds away from the harvest. Bird netting for tomato plants is cheap and easy to drape over the plants.
Unlike cages, they don’t take much planning or design. Simply drape it over your tomato plants when the tomatoes start turning colors and the birds can’t get to them without getting tangled in the netting.
What do you cover tomato plants with? Premade bird netting is typically a plastic-based mesh or nylon. Birds can’t see it well when drained over the plants but when they come to land near it, they will get caught, scared, and fly away without bothering the tomatoes.
5. Build A High Tunnel
What is the best bird deterrent? A high tunnel protects your crops from wild animals and environmental factors like rain and wind. Tomatoes do great in high tunnels but they are the most expensive option for crop protection.
If you are serious about your garden and have permanent beds, it may be worth the investment for the protection and manipulation of the climate within the tunnel itself.
This wouldn’t be my first choice if you are only trying to stop birds from eating tomatoes. But, as your homestead grows more productive and your systems develop to increase yield, you may find that a high tunnel is a great investment.
Go Protect Your Tomatoes!
Learning how to protect tomatoes from birds and other animals like squirrels will be more trial and error than science to find out what works in your garden.
Do birds eat tomatoes when protected with these options? Some of the options provided in this article are foolproof, while others may or may not work. It depends on how brave the birds are!