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How do I stop people from eating my strawberries?

I have a container garden that sits in my backyard, but live across the street from a park and I don't have a fence. I've been fortunate in that the local birds, bugs, and other little critters leave my strawberries alone, but the larger, two-legged pest has been a problem. Just as my berries get ripe, they disappear. I'm sure it's a human because the stem looks picked.

I've thought of making it more difficult for them by covering my pots with chicken wire. I've also thought of some kind of animal repellent or bad tasting spray like Bitter Apple to deter them from future pickings, but I worry about that being absorbed by the strawberries. Do you think if I started spraying it just before the fruit ripens it'll still absorb the taste? Would I be able to wash it off? Does anyone have any other ideas?

I'm new to gardening, so this has been really disappointing.


(Slight rant: The person doing this has to walk around some bushes, onto my property, and across my driveway or across my lawn, so it's not even a matter of seeing a ripe berry and having an impulsive moment. Grrrr.)

Green Mantis
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Location: Alberta, Canada zone 1a

Put up an electric fence!!! Once they hit that, they won't eat your strawberries anymore!! :wink:

Or put up a sign, saying experiment in progress on strawberries, poison on them, do not touch! Or something along those lines!! Stinker! for eating your hard earned berries!!! :(

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Trained guard grizzly bear!

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Put up a little fence. It can be a 2 ft tall picket fence that people could easily step over, but it is a very potent territory marker symbol in most people's minds and will stop a lot of them.

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Adopt a dog with attitude problems :P

There is a thing lee valley sells, it attaches to a water hose and is activated by motion to spray whatever passes by. It can be set for sPecific heights is dogs, squirrels, or people.

Sometimes the thief isn't who you think it might be - my husbands dog used to steal strawberries every morning, it took him 3 years to figure it out...
Or it could well be someone in your household who doesn't like to share...

Good luck

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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

I agree that first order of business is to put up barriers and signs to indicate that you do not want people to trespass or pick the strawberries.

See if that will help.

One possibly fun way to also protect plants in individual pots (this idea just popped in my head :wink:) -- get circular metal birdcages (flea market, craigslist, free cycle), remove the bottom and put them over the pots. They will keep out birds and rodents. You might be able to find stylish ones that could be part of your garden decor....

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You might try simply dropping bird netting over the area. I've found (so far) that it foils most predators. It's nice that the birds have left your stuff alone till now, but don't press your luck. They will probably discover the berries, eventually too.


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