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Protecting individual vegetables from sun, pests?

I feel I'll be told this is a bad idea, possibly accompanied by laughter, but I'd like to understand why: Does a growing vegetable itself, such as a tomato or pepper, need light same as the foliage does? I was wondering if I could fight off sunscald and hungry birds if I were to put a little cloth or paper baggie around a growing fruit. I'm really just hoping to be let off the hook about having to build netting around the beds, as my garden will be small enough that protecting individual fruits would be easier and certainly cheaper. Yea or nay?

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Individually bagging them in breathable paper or cloth is labor intensive but excellent way to protect the fruits. It's a method I've seen used for tree and vine fruits that take a long time to ripen.

Some fruits need sunlight to develop good color (tomatoes do not). so choice of material can be important.

You do need to be aware of ultimate size of the fruit and not constrain it in too small bags, or use stretchable material. I have heard, though not tried, that the little nylon peds offered for trying on shoes is another good choice for protecting apples from bugs. I've slipped melons in cut off tights to support them on trellises with excellent results.

What happens when paper bags get wet from rain, and how that would affect the fruit is another consideration. I think some can take it but not all.

Another added labor is in undoing the closure and peeking inside the bags or unbagging altogether to determine ripeness, then re-bagging if necessary.

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