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Fruit cages are a great way to keep large pests away from your crops
Fruit cages are tall, netted enclosures in which fruit bushes and small trees can grow to full height and allow the gardener to stand. The net is usually of small-gauge mesh, 15–20mm (1⁄2–3⁄4in), to exclude even the smallest birds.
Ideally the top should be removable to give pollinators access at flowering time and avoid damage from winter snowfall. Fruit cages won’t keep out squirrels, but might deter the casual pilfering that is occasionally encountered on allotments.
Most allotment fruit cages are of recycled material and not always things of beauty. Indeed proper fruit cages are quite costly. However, functional and tidy structures can be built using poles and wires at reasonable cost.
Recent mild winters and changes in agricultural practice have led to high populations of wood pigeons and deer. The damage that these can cause to both fruit and vegetables has led to a major increase in the use of cages on allotments. To prevent sites becoming ugly, some allotments restrict what you can build. Removal of derelict cages after plot-holders leave, often at significant cost to the allotment, is also common.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.