The blueberry plants
Well, sort of. There aren’t actually any blueberries yet, but there will be. My Dad got some blueberry plants with the intention of
One of the sides sans chicken wire
growing them for the first time. He’s been doing gardens for as long as I can remember, but never planted blueberries. One of his brothers told him about growing them, so Dad wanted to try it. His brother also told him “if you don’t put some kind of cage or barrier around them, you won’t get any berries, because the critters will eat every one.”
With that advice in mind, Dad designed an enclosure in which to surround the blueberry plants once they’re in the ground. He planted the berries this past week, so he needed to get something together relatively quickly so the deer and other woodland creatures that surround his place in Nottoway County (a few miles from Crewe) won’t eat the plants. It is a pretty simple design, made to be as lightweight as possible, and measuring 8′ W x 10′ L x 8′ H. It has a roof, of course, so the birds can’t fly in there, and the squirrels won’t be able to clamber to the top of the walls and jump down to the delicious berries. The only thing it can’t keep out is a bear – Dad had one of those show up a couple of weeks ago and empty out his bird feeders (destroying one in the process).
Chicken wire attached
We talked on the phone earlier in the week, and Dad said he thought it was a pretty simple project, and he didn’t think he’d need any help from me. He’s been undergoing some medical treatments, and just this week he started to experience pretty serious fatigue as a result. Within a couple days of our conversation, he called me back and asked if I could go out to his place and give him a hand. I had to sing in a wedding on Saturday, so we set Sunday afternoon as the appointed time. Debbie decided to go along and cut grass while we were there – Dad’s place has several acres of grass spread around and amongst the Pine Forest (what we call the place). She likes riding his big ‘ol mower, so it’s not really like work for her. We decided to get there around 1:00 PM, after Mom and Dad had returned from church.
We were later arriving at Pine Forest than we had planned. Dad called while were were on Rt. 288 to ask if we could stop at the Lowe’s on Hull St. and get a bundle of 1x2x8’s to use for corner braces, and to frame a door in one end of the enclosure. That place was a madhouse; everybody and his brother was there shopping for – oh, I don’t know- everything. That stop set us back about 30 minutes. A stop at the McDonald’s in Amelia cost us another 10 minutes. We finally got to Pine Forest around 1:30.
Dad got Debbie started on cutting the grass, and I jumped into cutting corner braces for the wall/ceiling sections that he had already put together. In addition to pre-drilling (the 1×2’s would split if you didn’t) the braces to be screwed to the frames, we put together the rest of the frames, and framed an opening for a door in one end. Nothing fancy, just a way to get in and out when the berries actually arrive. This took a couple of hours to finish. Then, we applied chicken wire to the rest of the frames that Dad
Dad working on one of the sides
hadn’t previously covered. That stuff is a pain – we stapled it on, and had to run two rows for each length of wall/ceiling or end piece. When you cut it with wire cutters, the remaining ends have a tendency to catch you by the fingers and make tiny little cuts (that are sore the next day when you’re typing).
Finally, we had the pieces completed. Now, we had to cart them a hundred or so yards from the garage/driveway to to the edge of the garden where the blueberries are planted. We used Dad’s ATV to cart them out there. Wall and ceiling sections within reach of the garden, we started standing them up and assembling them in a temporary fashion with small pieces of rope. He’s going to “permanently” assemble the whole thing with zip-ties, so it can be dis-assembled without a lot of effort. Getting the ends of the wall sections was a little tricky, because the ground out there isn’t level. We used a couple of pieces of 2×8 material to provide a level surface for the corners. Getting the ceiling up and adjusted was also a little tricky; even when things are perfectly square and level, there are always gaps.
We finished assembling the thing in about 30 minutes. Dad has only to make a couple of minor adjustments to the ceiling to close a couple of gaps that birds or squirrels could probably squeeze through if they really tried. Oh, and he needs to put the chicken wire on the door I framed up, and find a way to attach it to the doorway. This could be done with metal hinges, or he might just drill some holes in the door frame and the stile of the door and attach it with zip-ties. Those things are pretty handy.
Standing it up
Here’s some pictures of the building/assembly process. I took them with my iPhone, so the quality isn’t great (left my Canon DSLR in Charlotte at my brother’s house last weekend – brilliant) – but you get the point. I’m looking forward to tasting some of the fruits of our labor in a couple of months. At least I hope so; there’s a chance the plants won’t bear any fruit to next year, which would be too bad.
View from the house end of the garden
Finished - less the door