You might recall last summer’s efforts to build new strawberry beds after having some dirt work done.

Back in May/June this year, I finished putting shale on the paths and transplanted 500 of these little babies from the overcrowded original beds. They haven’t grown much in size, but they have taken root and are putting out flowers and runners. I’m clipping runners.

Plants in the old beds are big and loaded with promising blossoms.

A couple of weeks ago, I was excited to see the first berries beginning to turn pink. I watched the pink spread and turn orange-red. Finally, Mike and I decided two could be picked the following day. Our first strawberries of 2010!

The next day, as I weeded the old berry patch, I discovered one of the two ripe berries wasn’t there. Crumb! When I got down to the second ripe berry, I noticed it was partially eaten. Double crumb!

I make an effort to keep critters from eating my produce, and keep a pretty close eye on things, so what was eluding me?

I took a break to pout and gulp some water. From the deck, I saw my pal, Mr. or Ms. Robin, flutter into the strawberries where I had just been. I’ve watched it munch up insects in those beds all spring/summer.

You see, a pair of robins has been hanging around all spring. One flew into a window, and I kind of aided it as it recovered for three hours on our deck, providing shade, water, relative peace, and safety. The pair built a nest on our wood pile while I was gone for a few days, but decided to move out when I returned. Still, one visits when I’m out in the garden, and I see them often.

When I returned to the strawberries, the beautiful, ripe, partially-eaten berry was gone.

Do robins eat strawberries?!

I got online to find out.


Robins love ripe strawberries. That changes everything.

Scarecrows, pinwheels, dangling pie tins or cds, cheesecloth, right? Sure, except I don’t have any of those things. Then some advice from a former director of the St. Louis Zoo came to mind.

See that scary black thing winding through the strawberries?

Bungie cords! They’re a substitute for rubber snakes. They may not work on Alaskan birds because what do Alaskan birds know from snakes, right? We don’t have snakes. But robins migrate. They should know what snakes are.

But I don’t have that many bungies, so I rounded up some old pieces of electric cable (building materials saved for craft purposes). One bit has a yellow stripe running down the length of it–a nice touch, I thought.

Pre-bungie strawberry score:
Robins: 2
Mike: 1
Jen: 0

Post-bungie strawberry score:
Robins: 0
Mike: 0
Jen: 10 (8 in the freezer, 2 in the belly)

That’s more like it!

There are a lot of berries out there. I won’t mind sharing some.

Categories: Alaska

5 replies »

  1. This is hilarious and it made me think of the book, the $64 Tomato. Have you read it? A guy makes a huge garden, complete with fencing and wires etc. to keep out critters, and over the years the expenses add up. He finally totes it all up and it works out to him having spent $64 per tomato for his garden. It’s a really funny book and I don’t even like gardening!

  2. I have not read it, but I recall hearing about it at one point. I’ve just put it on my Recommended Reading list. Thanks, Carin!

    It’s true, of course. We sometimes figure our costs for fishing, shrimping, etc. It can be expensive to work so hard! Then we rationalize the price down by factoring in typical costs of entertainment and the eating out we don’t do.

    It’s not about financial savings, that’s for sure.

  3. Ah ha! Wonder if that will work in my hanging pot of strawberries. We had two beauties about ready to pick and the next day they were both more than half nibbled on. (Stellar Jays, we think.) So I am suppose to trim off the runners too?

  4. Bummer! I woke up today and found three gray jays around the patch, but all berries are accounted for, as far as I can tell. Soon, there will be too many ripening to count.

    Give snakes a shot. Got any real rubber snakes in your toy arsenal? No harm done if it doesn’t work.

    The runners will make baby plants. I didn’t cut any last year, which is why I had 500+ to transplant this year. This year, I’m clipping most of them, except in areas where plants are not yet sufficiently overcrowded.

    If you want baby plants, let them go. If you don’t want baby plants, cut them.

    If the grown-up plants aren’t making baby plants, maybe they’ll make bigger berries. That’s what I’m hoping.

    I wish peach trees grew here. And sour cherries. And apples.

  5. I hope the snakes continue to work in your garden. We’ve used pinwheels, foul-smelling organic stuff, balloons, snakes, etc. in our little garden beds. None of them worked. I’m glad you’re having better luck than we did! And our birds DO know snakes.