Anxious to get our tomato seedlings into the ground, I thought of a way to protect the cute little plants from birds. Grab an old metal cloths hanger by the hook end with one hand and grab the middle of the longer (bottom) part of the hanger with the other hand. Pull with both hands to stretch the hanger so it kind of looks like a big, very odd looking bubble blowing wand. Straighten the hook end out, as it will end up being the post you stick in the ground near the plant. If you like, you can use several "hanger" supports, 8 to 12 inches apart, per plant.
After sticking the post end in the ground, place a piece of bird netting over the top of the newly created support, assuring the netting is touching the ground, by at least 6 inches (more is better) on each side. Tie several pieces of yarn, string or plastic ties to secure the netting to the top of the "hanger" support. You can secure netting to the ground by making "U-shaped" wires from another cloths hanger to push through netting holes, into the ground. Or you could weight down the netting to keep it from blowing in the wind. You can make row covers as well, by using one long piece of netting and strategically placing "hanger" supports in the row. Tie the netting to the top of each support.
When the seedlings become large enough for self-protection from the birds, you can remove the netting. You can save your newly created "hanger" supports for other years. You can tie the hanger supports together, as they will stay better while in storage. It's an inexpensive and easy way to help your seedlings survive. I can't wait to pick that first juicy tomato, can you? And the birds can't wait to pluck those cute little tender seedlings out of the ground. We'll see who wins, as this is the first time I've tried this project. I really think it will work, don't you?
By Susan from Clinton, TN
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