Friday, 28 November 2014

The Strawberry Thief

Two years ago we planted two strawberry plants in one of our raised garden beds.  Sadly, the last two years have been a big disappointment.  We have eaten a few strawberries at most. So this is the third season that we have waited in anticipation to feast on the delicious sweet red fruit.

But a change is in the air. In September about ten strawberries sprouted from the remaining plant. We ate a few and they were so sweet! Much sweeter than any I've bought lately.  It all started then.

Not wanting to finish our first flush of strawberries too quickly I left a few almost ripe ones, wanting to share them with Mr Fix It the next day. Well the next day there was no strawberries on the bush! They'd been clean removed, bitten off the stalk.

The tantalising plant
I suspected our younger dog (Zac) since he was caught eating strawberries at my Mother in Laws a couple of years ago. 

Although disappointed, I wasn't too upset because we had enjoyed a few strawberries.  We thought that was it for the season not realising that the strawberry plant was gearing up for its main season.

It has been pretty much covered in fruit since about 6 weeks ago.  About 3 weeks ago there were big, juicy fruits staring to ripen. A day or two more I told myself and we will be eating them. Yum!

But we did not, and have not, enjoyed one piece of fruit since! Every single time I have seen the fruit starting to turn the promising delicious red ripe colour I tell myself, "a day or two more" and then return expecting to pick them but find an empty stalk instead. It is so devastating.

After this had happened for two weeks in a row we decided to take action.  Not having any suitable materials to make anything I found an Opera House Trap (crab net) in the shed and kind of hung it over the plant, hoping it would deter Zac while we thought of a better barrier.  A strawberry was ripening when I did this and the next day it was gone.

Opera House trap and nearly ripened strawberry
Further evidence that Zac was our culprit occurred on the same day I noticed that the crab net hadn't working.  He was frozen to the spot in the Lounge room, apparently overcome by hormones that may have been triggered by the aphrodisiac properties of the strawberry.  I swear he could not move for five minutes!

The Strawberry Thief suffering for his crime
After the failed crab net attempt I made up a simple 5mm bird wire cover (thanks to Mr Fix It's know how).  I bought 2 metres of chicken wire from Bunnings for $10 to make it.  It was two pieces of wire folded twice and laid over each other to seal off the whole plant.  A few days later a small strawberry that was ripening disappeared.  We shrugged it off as Zac having pushed up against the side of the wire to eat it through the barrier.  Cheeky, but we thought the rest should be safe.

The simple bird wire cage
For a week I watched the rest of the strawberries grow and then, at last, start to ripen.  There was a big one that caught my eye (and my taste buds!).   It was definitely out of reach of Zac since it was at the top of the plant under two layers of wire...

But then it also disappeared.  Cut off at the stalk! So it probably hasn't been Zac, or at least he is not the only culprit.  Clearly our simple cage is not up to stopping the Thief.

I had promised myself I wouldn't write this blog until I had eaten a delicious, ripe strawberry.  However, this saga has dragged on for so long I have decided to write about it in two posts.  This one is the dark, angry and unsatiated post.  I hope beyond all hope that there is a second post filled with joy and excitement bragging about how we conquered the Thief and ate some home grown strawberries.

Until then, we remain alert, on guard and united against the Thief.

Do you have any garden crops mysteriously going missing? Do you share our heart ache and pain?


  1. I think perhaps blue tongue lizards like strawberries. Are there any in your garden? I hope you solve the strawberry mystery soon and get to taste some of those gorgeous berries. Love your blog LIzzing! Karen

    1. No blue tongue lizards unfortunately, although it might be for the best since I'm sure the dogs would probably hurt them. Thanks very much, I hope we get to eat some soon too

  2. So cute!
    The birds where we live actually wait for our strawberries to be fully ripe before they pinch them! They are not silly! It is a count down to who waits the longest for the ripeness of the strawberries :)
    Mind you this year we have had a bumper crop and planted lots of basil around them which we think disguised them somewhat too haha!

    1. Well I hope we both get to feast on strawberries this year! I wonder if the birds were taking them - sneaky Thiefs :-)