For many allotmenters, the purpose of growing fruit and vegetables is the joy of knowing that the food you grow is healthy and free from chemicals, but also to save money. Without using netting there is a risk of losing your hard work (see this article on the types of allotment netting), but investing in netting can be expensive.
This article looks at three types of netting solution from the cheapest to the most expensive:
- DIY Vegetable Cages
- Pop Up & Self Assemble Cages
- Permanent Cages
DIY Vegetable Cages
There are many ways of making a DIY net. My preferred approach is to use a combination of canes, twine, clothes pegs and nets to create a temporary structure. These are easy to erect, flexible in size and portable – I frequently move my nets around my allotment based on the needs and fruiting season of my plants. More durable structures are also possible. Using a similar approach for my strawberry bed, but using a higher quality net and preserved posts cut to size, I have made a cage that has lasted a number of years.
Aside from flexibility, the approach also has the big advantage of being cheap. A superior version to this approach is to invest in cane connector balls. These work with a wide range of sizes (thickness of canes), but to ensure a really tight fit you may want to purchase plastic canes or a pack of connector balls and canes. See Cane Balls on Amazon UK and Canes on Amazon UK.
Pop Up & Self Assemble Vegetable Cages
Although cane balls and connectors save time in erecting DIY cages, they still require a little time and effort to set up. Pop up and self assemble fruit and vegetable cages are an alternative solution – but at a higher price. These are quick to set up and dismantle for winter and are also portable. As with all netting, to preserve their life ensure that weeds are under control and do not grow or climb up through the sides of the net. Extracting the weeds can be very time consuming and often causes damage to the nets.
These cages are ideal for protecting fruit bushes and canes that have their own dedicated space in the garden or allotment. Their big advantage over DIY cages is their durability and convenience. A permanent cage is designed to be able to walk about comfortably inside, with the ground covered by weed suppressing fabric, paving, woodchip etc to keep maintenance tasks to a minimum. This is the luxury end of growing your own, with a greater emphasis on quality rather than cost.
Permanent cages can be made from steel, aluminium and wood, and even incorporate a door for easy access. You may like to see: Heavy Duty Fruit Cages on Amazon UK for more information.