10 Things to Consider When Buying a Fruit Cage
19th April 2017
Planting your own fruit and watching them blossom into deliciously tasty strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries or other such delights is extremely rewarding. However, all too often the fruit you’ve been nurturing is ravaged by garden pests and animals before you get the chance to enjoy it. By introducing fruit cages to your garden or allotment you could see a big increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables making it to your kitchen. Read on for 10 top considerations to help you choose the right fruit cage.
If gusty winds are common in your area, then a strong and well-constructed fruit cage is a must. Heavy-duty galvanised steel cages will stand up to the brunt of the British weather and will last a lifetime.
2. Types of fruit cage
When it comes to walk-in fruit cage construction there are three main types – aluminium, steel, and others which are mainly wood or cane based. Structures with full-sized doors are highly desirable, making accessing your fruit cage easier for a more suitable working environment.
This is a cheaper construction material compared to steel, however it is lightweight and easy to move and construct. In addition, aluminium does not rust and is easy to maintain. The downside to this material is its lack of strength. Being much weaker than steel, aluminium-framed fruit cages have been known to be affected by weather. The material can bend, loosing shape and blowing down in high winds.
Steel structures are generally more expensive than aluminium frames, and come in a variety of finishes which will also affect prices. Steel readily rusts unless it is finished in a proper coating – if choosing a steel-framed fruit cage ensure it has been galvanised to prevent rust. Steel-framed fruit cages are far stronger compared to all other types of structure – this directly affects the longevity of your fruit cage. As with anything, if you buy quality you can expect to use it for much longer.
Wooden structures are by far the most expensive fruit cages, both to buy and to maintain. These structures are certainly not as strong as steel, but will look nicer in your garden. Yearly weatherproofing is needed to prevent rotting and to maintain its appearance.
By noting the growing height of your fruit trees and bushes you will get an idea of the size requirements of your product. Getting the height correct from the start will reduce the likelihood of needing to replace the structure in a season or two.
Always choose a cage that matches the space you have. Some companies supply their products in modular sections which means you can create the perfect-sized structure for your plot, allowing you to utilise all of your available space effectively. Remember, the price per square foot usually decreases the bigger you go.
Most fruit cages are supplied with netting as part of the package. However, there are different types of netting depending on the protection you require. If your intention is to stop birds, then a wide mesh net is all that is required. Protection from butterflies and smaller insects will require a much smaller mesh net. Most reputable companies will have options for you to choose from.
9. Securing your fruit cage
A fruit cage is a costly investment so you need to make sure that it is secured to the ground well. Some products have very flimsy spiked feet which are not really suitable. Check that yours can be secured easily and will withstand a strong wind.
The age-old saying of “buy cheap, buy twice” definitely comes into play here. Know your budget and available space, and be sure to go for strength and quality materials.
Made from heavy-duty galvanised steel, Northern Polytunnel’s walk-in fruit cage has been designed to accommodate varying sizes of fruit beds. Its modular sections allow the product to be bought in 2m increments to create the perfect-sized structure to fit any space. It comes with anti-bird netting as standard, with anti-butterfly mesh netting also available on request. Northern Polytunnels has been making polytunnels and steel-framed structures in the UK for 50 years. Call 01282 873 120 for a brochure, or visit northernpolytunnels.co.uk
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