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If this doesn't keep the birds away from the cherries....

As much stagecraft as garden know-how went into the wire structure that protects the cherry tree shown here. Designed by a man who was a stagehand in high school, the cage's modular panels go together quickly and securely, store flat, and cost little. What's more, they can be reassembled in different ways to protect other fruits after the cherry crop is in.

Don Anderson of Sequim, Washington, based his design on 4- by 10-foot panels, each made from one 8-foot and two 10foot 1-by-2s, a 12-foot 1-by-4, and scrap 3/8-inch plywood for gussets and tabs.

First, he cut the 8-foot 1-by-2 into two 45inch lengths. He then nailed one 45-inch piece flush with the tops of the side pieces and attached the other one 4 inches above the base of the side pieces. At each butt joint, he nailed a small reinforcing

gusset made from a piece of plywood.

To add strength, four 3-foot diagonal braces (cut from the 1-by-4) fit across the corners. Mr. Anderson stapled 1-inchmesh chicken wire (cut from 4-foot-wide rolls) over the inside of each panel.

So that the panels can be lashed together, he nailed lashing tabs (2- by 5-inch pieces of plywood: see photographs above) to the outsides of each panel. The left side has them at the 1-, 3-, 5-, 7-, and 9-foot levels, while the right side has them at the 2-, 4-, 6-, 8-, and 9-foot levels.

It takes 8 panels to surround a 10-footdiameter tree, 10 panels to surround a 12foot-diameter tree. Two people can erect a cage in about 15 minutes. When the panels are up, Mr. Anderson lays boards across the top of the cage to support a covering of vinyl bird netting. To give added security in wind, the cage is tied to three stakes in the ground.

Mr. Anderson gets into the structure through a section made from two half-panels (4 feet wide, 5 feet tall). The bottom half-panel comes off to act as a door. Cages go around his three cherry trees in June and come down after harvest.
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Date:Jun 1, 1989
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