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Propping up anti-bird netting

Propping up anti-bird netting


Our berry enclosure has been unsuccessful at keeping out chipmunks but successful at keeping out birds. So we moved our strawberries (aka chipmunk magnets) to a different setup and are using the space left behind for blackberries, raspberries, and gooseberries.

This year, we’ve had great harvests from all of our berries, which means I visit the berry enclosure a lot. And that also means bird netting rubbing against my head every time I take a step turned into a drag. Time to solve that problem once and for all!

My first step was to look back through old Walden Effect posts, where I found this great solution in another gardener’s berry area. Now, how to recreate it to mesh with our existing setup?

A PVC pipe on top of a fencepost

We had a lot of 10-foot PVC pipes lying around, purchased when we thought we’d need to extend our garden fence to 10 feet to keep out deer. That turned out to be unnecessary, so I decided to repurpose the pipes into berry-netting supports.

Next, we need to find a U-post that would slide easily inside the pipes. The cheapest, shortest ones were a fit!

Berry enclosure

I ended up cutting a couple of feet off each PVC pipe before sliding it onto the post since there was only so much wiggle room in our existing system. If you’re starting from scratch, you can probably use the full height.

Last step was to plop old plastic flower pots on top of each pipe to spread out that pressure point and prevent pipes from poking through netting if leaves fall before we take our setup down. If you repeat this, be smarter than I was — don’t stare up at the flower pot as you raise the pole into place or you’ll end up with an almost black eye!

We’re thrilled with the result, although the enclosure still has one big flaw. Honeysuckle has taken over the fence edges and each season it expands to twine into our berry netting. We’re still working out solutions on that front. In the meantime, eating lots of berries is a great reward for not-so-hard work.

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Gooseberry Fool taste test

Bowl of gooseberries

Fourteen years ago, Mom sent me her family recipe for Gooseberry Fool. Foolishly, I waited over a decade to give it a try. I also tweaked the ingredients a bit based on other recipes on the internet (and on Mom’s memory that the Fool she ate as a kid was thickened with an egg).

The recipe I used:

  • 1.5 cups of gooseberries, washed but with the stems and tails still on (plus a few raspberries)
  • a bit of water
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream (ours was homemade, but I assume you could use the stuff in the can)

Cook the gooseberries and sugar over medium heat with just enough water so they don’t burn. Once the berries burst, remove them from the heat and send them through a foley mill (or use another method to get rid of the skins and most of the seeds).

In a separate container, mix the milk and egg well. Pour the eggy-milk mixture into the gooseberry puree and return to the heat, stirring constantly until it bubbles and thickens.

Cool the new mixture completely, then stir in whipped cream. Top with a raspberry if you have any left.

Gooseberry fool

Then it was time for the taste test.

Anna: “It’s okay, but I like the raw berries better.”

Mark (who’s only so-so on raw gooseberries but hates to complain about food I put in front of him): “Hm. It’s… Um… Did you say there’s also the option of chocolate cake?”

I guess there’s a reason Gooseberry Fool isn’t a mainstream recipe any more…