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Spring in central Virginia continues, despite the human condition. Mother Nature always wins. She has run wild since late March delivering freezing 29F temperatures one night then 80F the next week. Wow! My poor peony crop has never seen such dramatic swings. Yet, for the past two weeks, I managed to harvest enough flowers for bouquets to sell at market. Happy customers are unaware of my road of angst traveled to get there.

2015 Peony city market May

slowly a peony harvest in 2020

The O’Neal blueberries are another story. The bumblebees did a splendid job of pollinating the flowers early on. P1040209Fruit swelled on the stems, yet they too experienced the dramatic temperature swings. My three shrubs are now ten years old. How time flies. Over the years, I experimented in numerous ways on how to deter birds and one nocturnal four-legger from my cash crop.


A few years back I began experimenting with tulle, yes the stuff wedding veils are made of. Standard bird netting is evil and can snag, injure, or kill a wild bird, therefore I NEVER use it. Tulle on the other hand is soft like an angel’s kiss. Notice in this photo the Mylar strips, whirligigs, and even a fake snake on the ground. None really discouraged wildlife.


Last year I applied more tulle, the widest I could find at Joann’s. This was more effective, but made my harvesting job much more difficult, although every time I lifted the tulle, I felt like a bride. 😉 One curious raccoon would get tied up in the edges, and there would be strips of tulle around the ground next morning. NOT good.

Soon blueberry harvest...new tulle guard in place. Peonies are chin high.

2020 Improvements…Since blueberries are part of my landscape, I do not want to build a permanent structure around them. Therefore, I purchased eight eight-foot garden stakes to form a minimal frame to hold the tulle higher and wider than the shrubs. On the tops of the stakes I placed inverted, one-quart PETE containers to protect the tulle. Yesterday, I only spent about an hour installing the stakes and applying the tulle. Tentatively held in place with clothes pins, the tulle remained in place overnight and, fingers crossed, throughout the harvest weeks ahead. Notice the black-ish line on the ground along the tulle’s perimeter…that is spent coffee grounds, collected from one local coffee shop. Last year I discovered that raccoons despise the scent/texture of coffee grounds. The space left under the tulle will hopefully prevent critters from tearing it. Since I spent the part of three March days hand sewing this 11 yards of double-wide tulle, I want to see it last a few season. Yes?  

What do you think of my recent solution?
Gardening is all about evolution.
And patience, and resilience.

Only the cleverest catbird or cardinal will find their way under the tulle to the berries. I don’t mind sharing a few, but since I harvested thirty pounds of berries from these three shrubs in 2019, I will not share many with wildlife.

Regular market customers are already lined up for their share of this blue superfood come June.

Now back to the peony harvest. Overcast skies this week threaten rain on partially opened buds, not quite ready for harvest. Peonies and rain are not the ideal combination for floral bouquets. A giant circus tent would be ideal for protection, but alas that will not happen. And so it goes…

I hope you and yours are well and safe. I enjoy hearing from you, so please take a moment to drop a comment.

Copyright © 2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved