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Seven Ways to Protect Tomato Plants From Birds



Birds can cause significant damage to tomato crops, resulting in yield loss and making plants more susceptible to diseases. Protecting tomato plants with bird deterrents is essential.....PROCEED.FULL.READING>>>

Creating a barrier using netting or other materials can prevent birds from accessing tomato plants. Proper installation and maintenance of netting can reduce the risk of tangling incidents with birds of prey and snakes.

Scare tactics, such as scarecrows, lights, alarms, and models of predatory birds, are effective bird deterrents. Regularly changing the position of scare devices keeps birds from becoming acclimated to them.

Liquid deterrents, both natural and commercial, can also be used effectively. Consider creating a distraction by providing more enticing options for birds, like bird feeders and bird baths. Combining and rotating deterrent methods is crucial to prevent birds from habituating to them. Keeping the garden clean by removing nesting materials will discourage birds from returning. Coexisting with birds by providing bird-friendly plants can help preserve the local ecosystem.

The first bite of a plump, home-grown tomato straight from the vine is a delicious experience for a tomato gardener. Unfortunately for many, their tomato harvest may be less abundant thanks to a winged pest seen every day: birds. They love tomatoes as much as you do but can ruin an entire crop without the proper deterrents.

Birds cause significant damage to crops every year. Researchers found that bird damage is responsible for an average 5 to 30 percent yield loss in commercial crops. Some commercial growers report as much as 50 percent yield loss. Along with the loss from physical damage, puncture wounds from birds make tomato plants more susceptible to common tomato plant diseases that could devastate your garden.

Luckily, with the proper bird deterrents, you can protect your tomato plants and enjoy the fruits of your labor instead of the birds.

Create a Barrier
closeup of bird netting in white color

The most sure way to protect your tomato plants from wildlife, whether it be protection from squirrels, deer, or birds, is to create a barrier. When using netting, first create a framework using poles or stakes to create a structure around the area. This creates space between the netting and the plants, preventing access to your crop.

In recent years, some agriculturists have questioned the safety of bird netting due to reports of birds of prey and snakes becoming tangled in the mesh. Though concerning, gardeners reduce the risk of these incidents with the correct installation and maintenance of their netting.

Use Scare Tactics
Owl model visual deterrent

Some of the oldest bird deterrents are scare devices. The use of scare tactics is a centuries-old practice because it works. Traditionally, farmers kept a scarecrow in their fields to intimidate birds. While those visual tactics are still valid options, new technology makes this method even more potent.

Scarecrows, lights, alarms, models of predatory birds, “nuisance noise,” etc. are generally effective. However, as birds acclimate to the devices, they lose their impact. Regularly change the scare devices position to keep curious birds away from the area and your tomato plants.

Liquid and Chemical Deterrents
A person spraying a substance on a plant.

Whether you choose a natural or commercial option, liquid bird deterrents are a safe and effective way to add more protection to your tomato plants. Commercial bird repellents typically rely on formulations confirmed to repel birds. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions if using a commercial liquid deterrent.

There are several natural deterrents for those who prefer to avoid chemicals. An unusual yet surprisingly effective option is grape-flavored Kool-Aid. The mix contains methyl anthranilate, a grape extract often used in commercially made deterrents. Spray a mixture of water and grape Kool-Aid directly onto your tomato plants. The flavor is unpalatable to birds and discourages them from returning. Spraying a solution of table sugar and water is also very effective.

Create a Distraction
bird eating from a feeder

Animals are motivated by basic needs: food, water, and shelter. They are attracted to tomato plants because they provide all the necessities! Providing various other more enticing options, like bird feeders, bird baths, and birdhouses, you can distract the birds and guide them away from your tomato plants.

Although bird damage can be frustrating, birds can be great garden helpers under the right circumstances. They offer natural pest control and facilitate pollination. Rather than driving them away, consider creating a welcoming environment for them. Adding bird-friendly plants to an area of your garden will direct them away from your tomato plants and continue to attract insect-eating birds to act as your natural pest police.

Rotate and Combine Methods
Tomato cage

Just like you should rotate your crops, you should rotate your deterrents. You may find that one deterrent method works particularly well on the species of birds in your area or another was effective at first but lost its impact over time. A “multipronged” approach is best for optimal results. As birds habituate to deterrents, they become less effective. Combining and switching up your deterrent methods is a must to prevent this.

Take time to familiarize yourself with the native birds in your region and their behaviors, especially their feeding patterns. Once you have a system that works, rotate devices for each method to avoid the birds getting used to them. For example, if a combination of visual, auditory, and liquid deterrents works in your garden, regularly change your visual scare device or try a different liquid repellent. Unpredictability keep the birds from getting too comfortable again!

Keep Your Garden Clean
Raking fall leaves in a backyard

You’re likely already doing something that discourages birds from invading your tomato plants: keeping your garden clean. Just as birds are attracted to sources of food and shelter, they are also searching for nesting materials. Taking the time to regularly clear out any plant waste from your tomato plants, such as fallen fruit or dropped foliage, you will remove another incentive they have to return to the area.

Keep an eye out for these common nesting materials birds look for in your garden:

Dropped leaves
Dry grass
Strips of bark
Pine needles
Plant debris, especially plant fluff

Routine upkeep and maintenance of your tomato garden will ensure there are no materials that may encourage birds to return in the future. Plus, it will improve the health of your tomato plants.
Your Garden Is NOT for the Birds

Birds can be delightful visitors in your garden, so long as your crop is protected. Learning to coexist with your neighborhood flocks may lead to a fruitful partnership. Providing them with bird-friendly plants, trees, and shrubs where they can enjoy your garden will preserve your local ecosystem and make spending time in your garden (and tomatoes) even more enjoyable.

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