Anyone who has grown strawberries knows how irresistible they are to a wide-range of predators. There are a lot of tricks that people have developed over the years to protect berries, but the most simple and reliable option over the long-term is to create boxes with lids. They are sturdy, easy to maintain and help you to avoid the need to stock up on repellent products that may or may not work. Let’s look at a simple and basic design that you can improve upon as you see fit.
Building the Base
The first question to consider is whether or not you want to use concrete, bricks, rocks or cinder blocks as a foundation to keep predators from burrowing underneath the boxes. It’s very easy to grow strawberries in a raised bed as long as you make it tall enough to support the growth of the root system. However, you can also take the side boards of the box and bury an inch or two of them into the ground to minimize burrowing. Just be vigilant in terms of inspecting the boxes to fill holes that opportunistic critters make from time to time.
In any case, all you need to do to build the base is make a simple box out of some planks of wood. You can use any length of wood you like based on your preferences, and you can also make the boxes either square or rectangular. The important thing is to make them tall enough, especially if you will be using a raised bed that is completely separate from the ground beneath. If you are using a bed that built atop the ground, then the depth is not as important. Aim for using planks that are at least six inches tall.
Screw the individual pieces together and consider using strips of wood to form joints for a finished product that is more sturdy.
Building the Screen Frame
The next step is to build a frame that will rest atop the baseboards. You have a couple of options to consider. You can either make another frame and place some chicken wire or wire mesh over the top for a shallow frame, or you can build a taller one with some smaller pieces of wood and wire.
To make the screen lid, simply take some 2 x 4 planks, screw them together so they match the size of the foundation box, or make them slightly larger to provide a lip. Staple the wire or mesh atop the framed lid. Attach two hinges to one side of the frame and lid and attach a hook clasp to the other side. All you need to do is unhook the lid and lift it up when you want to tend to the berries. This the easiest option, and it works best when using taller planks for your foundation box.
The other option is to take some smaller pieces of wood, perhaps 1 x 2 planks, and make them about a foot tall. Attach them vertically to the inner corners of each box. You can also use 2 x 4 planks if you want something a little bit stronger. Next, place some planks atop these stakes and lay them flat. Screw them into the planks. You now have box that rests atop the base boards. To make the lid, take four more pieces of wood with the dimensions of your choosing and screw them together. Attach hinges to the corresponding sides of the frame and lid along with the hook and clasp on the other side.
Staple the chicken wire or mesh along all four sides of the new box as well as across the lid. Clasp closed and you’re good to go. This works well when you want to make the box taller or don’t have wide pieces of wood planks for the base board. However, you will need to keep a close eye on the condition of the chicken wire to ensure that predators are not gnawing through and getting at your strawberries.
The main thing to consider is building a box that will not stunt the growth of your plants. In any case, this simple solution is most likely going to be the cheapest, most effective and easy to manage vermin control system for your strawberry garden. Try these examples out for yourself, and feel free to come up with your own variations in order to end up with bigger harvests with fewer problems along the way.