How to defend blueberries against airborne raids


July 25, 1999

Q. My 4-year-old blueberry plants produced a lot of nice fruit this year, but the birds beat me to most of it. I have some late-ripening bushes yet to harvest. What are the best ways to keep the birds at bay?

A. Inexpensive bird netting draped over the bushes will do the trick. And if you can, erect a simple plastic or wood frame to support the netting about 1 foot away from the bushes. This will keep wildlife from picking off berries directly under the netting.

You can also purchase "bird scare tape" -- an iridescent silver and red tape -- that you loosely drape over fruit plants one to two weeks before harvest. Many types of birds are repelled by the bright reflections caused by sunlight hitting the tape.

Q. My tomato plants are huge and loaded with fruit, but the bottom leaves on most of the plants are curled up. What causes this problem and is there anything I should do?

A. Lower leaf roll in tomatoes is a very common physiologic response to high temperatures. Cultivars vary in their leaf-rolling tendency.

There is nothing you can do to prevent leaf roll, but your yield will not be affected.

Q. I moved to Baltimore from Atlanta and really miss the Southern magnolias. I've seen a few in the area that look healthy. Would this be a good tree for my back yard?

A. The stately Magnolia grandiflora can be grown here, but very cold winters will cause significant winter burn, which detracts from the tree's appearance. Magnolias do seem to grow out of the damage, however.

Check out the 'Edith Bogue' cultivar of Southern magnolia; it is supposed to tolerate temperatures down to minus-20 degrees.

A bigger concern about magnolias might be the raking and disposing of all the old leaves that fall to the ground each spring.


1. Prevent tomatoes and other fruits from cracking and splitting by keeping a thick layer of mulch around them(grass clippings, shredded leaves or newspaper covered with straw) and watering plants deeply twice a week when rainfall is lacking.

2. Start broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage indoors for planting outdoors in late August.

3. Remove and discard the fungi that become visible on organic mulches during warm, wet weather.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at

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