Netting Solutions

Dear Harrod

I’ve got a small gooseberry bush with gooseberries which are currently about pea-size, and a small Cox’s Pippin apple tree which is about 2 years old and just starting to grow apples; I presume I need to cover these with netting to stop the birds or butterflies eating the fruit, please can you advise which type of netting I need, how small the holes, and how do I cover the bush and the tree – do I just throw the netting over the top or do I need to put stakes in and hang the netting on that so the bush/tree doesn’t take the weight of the netting?

Also, we’ve got a small vegetable garden which has a wall one side and fences on the other 3 sides and is a sun-trap; it is ideal for growing all sorts of crops and I have had a lot of success with it.  My only problem is that I have tomatoes growing in troughs up against the wall and they are at the mercy of the sun from about lunch-time onwards.  I water them regularly but what I need is a small awning or a temporary structure I can put up to shade them when the sun is really strong and I wondered if there was something you could suggest.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks.

Kind regards.


Dear Linda

You are quite right in wanting to protect your fruit from the birds.  The gooseberry in particular will be in danger of bird damage. 

I wouldn’t drape the netting directly over the trees and gooseberry bush.  There is a danger that birds will still try to access the fruit through the net and get tangled in it.  Also it doesn’t look especially tidy.  A better idea is build some sort of structure to hold the netting away from the plant.  An easy way to do this is using bamboo canes and cane toppers.  The net can then be draped over these. 

Another method is to put a cage over the fruit with the netting tied on.  The frame can be fitted with an access strip for maintenance and harvesting of the fruit.

With regards to your tomatoes, they usually enjoy such conditions as long as they are well watered.  Direct sun light will help the tomatoes mature quicker.  We grown tomatoes in a similar situation in the kitchen garden.  These plants are grown in our tomato success kits which have a water reservoir meaning the plants have constant access to a water and feed supply.  However, tomatoes can be susceptible to blight if they are in the open during a wet spell, so we also use a grow house to keep them protected. 

If you wish to shade them, you could build a frame using aluminium tubing and slot and lock connectors and cover this with shade netting.  The netting could then be removed or added whenever conditions required.

I hope this is helpful.  Please let me know if you require any further help.

Kindest Regards


Jo Blackwell

Kitchen Gardener