Are birds and possums plundering your fruit trees and vines just before your fruit ripens? Many gardeners try netting the whole tree, but sometimes that proves too difficult. If you can’t get a whole tree or vine under netting, there’s a simpler solution – just net the fruit!
Ryset Australia has a range of pest deterrent and bird netting products, including these wonderful Fruit Protection Bags, which I was given by a local garden nursery to review. This product is a large 30cm x 30cm (12” x 12”) large drawstring bag made of commercial insect exclusion netting, which slips over the fruit to be protected. The mesh is fine enough to keep insect pests out too.They come in a bag of ten, and each bag is large enough to protect most fruit and vine crops.
The top and bottom edged are securely stitched and the drawstring is made of black plastic cord which is not affected by water, and easy to untie.
As you can see, the mesh is quite fine so it will also prevent insects from getting to your fruit, including fruit flies which are common pests in the more subtropical and tropical climates. As an added benefit, fruit bats cannot get tangled in the fine mesh either, it’s perfectly safe to use where they may be present.
To use, just slip the bag over a bunch of fruit or berries (such as grapes), pull the drawstring firmly to close the top off, and tie with a shoelace knot.
Where can you purchase this product? Ryset is a wholesaler which supplies the retail garden and professional agricultural industry, so for home gardeners the best place to purchase Ryset’s products is from your local garden nursery.
In Melbourne, Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery sells a range of Ryset netting and fruit protection products, for online purchases nationally in Australia you can also order from The Diggers Club or from Greenharvest.
Ryset’s Fruit Protection Bags
This solution is very cost effective, so having lots of individual bags is not a concern. The Ryset Fruit Protection Bags come in bags of ten for around five dollars, so they’re only fifty-cents each! I’ve used mine over many seasons repeatedly and they are still in excellent condition, and since they’re out in the elements only during fruiting season, they should last many years.
So far, I have tested this product on apples, grapes, persimmons and plums. You can easily wrap the bag over a bunch of apples, fitting nearly half a dozen in each bag, if the apples are growing close enough.
When it comes to protecting grapes, I’ve found that birds are quite intelligent. If you don’t pull the drawstring tightly and leave it fairly loose, they will pick out the grapes one by one so the bag slips down to reveal more grapes! After discovering this and properly tightening the drawstrings, I managed to cover around 50 large bunches of grapes and stopped the birds getting to them.
With my grapevines, I also discovered that rats and mice can climb very well. One of my grapevines runs under the eaves of the roof, around 3m (10’) high, screening my west wall from the hot summer afternoon sun, and I spotted a pair of rats and some mice climbing all the way up. They also chewed through the fruit protection bags, rodents can chew through most things, but luckily they only ruined two fruit protection bags before I resorted to other solutions to control them…
In my garden we have possums, fruit bats and birds, including rainbow lorikeets (small parrots). The possums and parrots did not try to get through the fruit bags, their presence was enough to deter them . My dwarf almond tree and a dwarf loquat tree were always stripped clean by rainbow lorikeets, and using the fruit protection bags saved the whole crop last season.
Working part time in a garden nursery, I get to speak to a lot of gardeners, and one person told me that when the rats chewed holes through the fruit bags, the opportunistic possums forced themselves through the hole, opening it up further to access the fruit inside. I guess nothing is foolproof when you’re dealing with intelligent animals that are capable of learning.
I’m sold on this product, I personally have stocked up on these Fruit Protection Bags as they’re cheap and reusable, and I cover my fruit and grapes before they are mature enough to be appealing to the garden pests that seem to be increasing in number year after year!
In Permaculture, we’re always focussed on energy efficiency and minimising the use of non-renewable resources. As a handy tip, here’s a Permaculture way of using this product! When you have trees that crop at different times throughout the year, you can simply move the bags from tree to tree. As you harvest from one tree, this frees up the bags to cover newly growing fruit on the next tree. This means you don’t need as much of these nifty bags as you might think, a point appreciated by sustainable gardeners out there.
I’ve also found that these bags are great at ‘catching fruit’ that naturally falls from the tree, minimising wastage. It’s easy to see a ripe apple in the bottom of the bag hanging from the branch, preserved in pristine condition, ready to eat! When fruit falls and hits the ground, it’s often damaged, and when fruit falls unnoticed it’s usually attacked by snails overnight as it lays on the ground.
Incidentally, if these bags don’t seem large enough for your requirements, Ryset also makes a 30cm wide x 90cm (1’ x 3’) long sleeve with drawstring ends on each side to cover whole branches, and they also make preformed tree covers 2.4m x 2.8m with a door on the side, all made of the same material. Stay tuned, I’ll also asses these products in upcoming reviews.
In summary, Ryset Fruit Protection Bags are a very cost effective and sustainable way to protect fruit from pests such as birds and possums! They’re reusable, easy to deploy, and easy to remove. They also protect fruit from insect pests, making them quite versatile, delivering multiple benefits to gardeners. These great little bags have now earned their place in my range of tools for protecting my produce from pests, and I can wholeheartedly recommend them!
Deep Green rating for the “Ryset Fruit Protection Bags” is 5 stars!
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