The Strawberry Massacre

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Project by NoLongerHere posted 06-20-2013 04:49 PM 1967 views 3 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The Strawberry Massacre
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Man, I love strawberries!

I quickly found out … So do the chipmunks.

I’ve always wanted a strawberry patch so Last year, I dug up the old flower beds and created this vegetable and strawberry garden in the back yard.

We enjoyed several types of lettuce, green beans and peas, carrots, peppers (given away – Agh!)
and a variety of herbs all surrounded in marigolds.

A neighbor friend gave me about 50 chutes and I bought another 60 chutes but, I was told I have to wait a year to get strawberries from the new ones.

There is another garden for tomatoes, corn, red potatoes, green beans, beats, cucumbers, squash, watermelons, pumpkins and a 50 year old, four ft. tall rhubarb that’s been split eight times and given to several neighbors.

Hmmmmm! fresh salad tonight.

Can you see the praying mantis?

sup? ”

I couldn’t wait to harvest that first bowl full of home grown strawberries.

This spring, I watched the plants explode in new growth, sending out new leaves, chutes and yellow flowers which quickly turned in to little green strawberries in the making….. Hundreds of them.

I was so excited I started making a list in my head of the lucky friends that will share my home grown heavenly bliss.

But, way down low….deep in the thick mass of new strawberry flora and flowers, there was a creature busy at work who had his own list….and all the neighborhood chipmunks were on it.

As soon as a big strawberry started to turn red, they would grab it and leave nothing behind.

No signs of the strawberry massacre, no juicy seed trails leading away from the scene of the crime,
not even a kernel of chipmunk poop left as evidence.

How could one chipmunk eat so many strawberries? There must be a lot more but I never saw one!

That was the last straw.

It was obvious that I had to do something fast or forget about home grown strawberries for desert.

So, I decided to build a strawberry pen out of some 1×6 rough sawn cedar that was given to me by a client.

Last winter, I remodeled their master bathroom. The previous contractor left 10 – 16’ 1×6 cedar planks in their garage, left over from the siding project. They gave them to me and were glad to have them out of the way.

They were perfect for this project. What a score!

I ripped the 1×6s in half to 2 3/4”, attached the frames together with pocket screws and stapled galv. 1/2” cage wire to it, sticking it down in the ground 4” and buried in 3/4” packed gravel, topped with bricks inside and 6×10 pavers outside buried in the ground.

Nothing’s getting through this.

Check out the hinges.

Another client gave them to me and was hoping I could do something neat with them.

They were left over from remodeling an old 1920 -30s Brown Stone in the heart of Chicago.

They were covered in paint and pretty rusty so, I took them apart, sandblasted, primed and painted them with high heat aluminum spray paint.

Now, they look and work great. I’m sure the client who gave them to me will be pleased with their new home.

There are just a few flowers left now… Not sure if we will have many strawberries to share this year.

I did get this one strawberry before the little garden monkeys absconded it.

It was delicious.


But, next year….

I think I’ll send the first two baskets of perfect, chipmunk free strawberries to the clients who donated the materials that made this project possible….. yea, that would be cool.

Woodworking and gardening…’s all good.

17 comments so far

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6222 posts in 3549 days

#1 posted 06-20-2013 05:47 PM

Perfect solution! Those hinges are really nice. Way too good for that project.
You should post this project on Garden Tenders.
Nice work!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3275 days

#2 posted 06-20-2013 09:11 PM

Hi, long time no view; my fault though. I had the same gardening you had, Mark. My marauders were wild bunnies and deer. Between them, they took care of all my fruits and veggies making sure I didn’t have to bother harvesting – very considerate of them! This year, I’m doing a little differently. I ties strings between poles stakes around my pear and apple trees (bumper crop this year1) and tied those useless CD’s about a foot down. They keep birds away with the twirling and flashing so I’m hoping that they’d work on rabbits and deer. . . got my fingers crossed . . . your method is much more secure, but I just didn’t want to spend that much time on it. Good luck to both of us!
p.s. – you not only have green thumbs, look at your fingers, Mark, I’d bet they’re green 2!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View Randy_ATX's profile


880 posts in 2638 days

#3 posted 06-20-2013 09:28 PM

No signs of the strawberry massacre, no juicy seed trails leading away from the scene of the crime, not even a kernel of chipmunk poop left as evidence.

Loved the story and the solution – I garden too. Nice work.

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3884 days

#4 posted 06-21-2013 03:28 AM

Chip and Dale…always up to no good ! Nice project and a great story : ) Best wishes on your future crops.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2872 days

#5 posted 06-21-2013 12:18 PM

woodshaver, I know!... but they’re HUGE 5” hinges, made for a 2 3/4” thick door.
I think if I had to hang a door that big, I would want to use 4” brass or nickel ball bearing hinges. These hinges also don’t have the 2/3 hinge pivot hole layout of a typical hinge which seems like a bad design unless you wanted to be able to remove the door…. I don’t know why.
But at least they’re not sitting in a box in the shed and they sure get lots of compliments on this project.
Join Garden tenders?.... don’t tempt me, as if I don’t spend enough time on this computer. ha! Some day soon.

James – Little buggers went and joined a union! Ha! BTW – all of my pea seedlings disappeared last night.
News at 11.

Paul! Hey man, good to hear from you. I hear you can spray coyote pee on everything and that will keep them away. yuk. We have two big golden retrievers so no rabbits or deer, thankfully.
...and the dirty hands? well, that’s when I’m the happiest.

Thanks, Randy and Dusty, glad you enjoyed it.

on to the next project on the list.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6222 posts in 3549 days

#6 posted 06-21-2013 01:22 PM

eBay came to mind when I saw those hinges. They are cool and makes your project a conversation piece. I like them!
But I saw $$$$ signs at first look! You’re in IL. and you have veggies already! Nice display of good stuff! Yummy!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3063 days

#7 posted 06-21-2013 01:39 PM

It’s a very practical project and well done too. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View TurnTurnTurn's profile


614 posts in 3306 days

#8 posted 06-21-2013 03:28 PM

Nice work, all those vegi pix made me hungry!!!!

-- TurnTurnTurn

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2872 days

#9 posted 06-21-2013 03:35 PM

Tony, no veggies yet, that was a picture of last year’s harvest.
Strawberry season is just about over. Although I researched them and found out they have other types that have fruit more than once. I’m not sure what type these are. I got them for free from a neighbor who was thinning them out.
Good thing I got them because their garage burned to the ground two weeks later and they would have been destroyed. I told her that she could have a bunch of them back when they finish rebuilding the garage this summer. Crazy Huh?

I didn’t even mention the carpenter ants. When I removed the existing pavers to make room to dig the chipmunk gravel moat, I uncovered the holly grail of ant larvae and the Grand Central Station to every ant in Wildwood Il.
There were millions of them pouring out of the ground! I ran out of bug spray and had to resort to a propane torch followed by a thorough soaking with the hose. I have a feeling the battle is not over.

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3773 days

#10 posted 06-21-2013 03:37 PM

Good idea,nice work.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4250 posts in 3361 days

#11 posted 06-21-2013 04:06 PM

Nice work, and those hinges are squeaky neat. We have squirrels up here in Seward’s icebox, but no chipmunks in my area anyway.

The biggest trouble makers around here are the moose, that like to gobble up ornamental trees and such. They used to eat the left over crabapples and trim the tree as well in the winter, but now, for other reasons, we have a six foot fence.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View oldnovice's profile


7316 posts in 3564 days

#12 posted 06-21-2013 07:37 PM

Berry nice design!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6222 posts in 3549 days

#13 posted 06-21-2013 07:49 PM

Ants, they always come back! We are always fighting those nasty Fire Ants here in Florida.

My neighbor planted some strawberry’s in her garden a few months ago and the birds got to enjoy them before she did. I told her to make a box and screen it just as you have done. But she just gave up on it. The next time I see her I’ll tell her to take a look at your set up! She will like what you have done! Looks nice too!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2372 days

#14 posted 06-21-2013 09:22 PM

Looks great and well installed. I’m sure the strawberries are safe now. Great to see those beautiful and healthy plants.

View january's profile


23 posts in 1790 days

#15 posted 01-14-2014 10:47 PM

Reedwood, I love this! Very classy looking. And the hinges are awesome. Good stuff is never “wasted” on the garden. I’ve been thinking about adding something like this to my garden beds. Mostly for the strawberry bed too. (The squirrels don’t seem to like the eggplant.)

I was thinking a topper that could be switched out with plexiglass/glass in the winter and screen, like you have, during the growing season. I noticed your pen is angled on top. Is it south-facing? Have you thought about setting it up as a cold-frame, too? I bet you’d get a longer strawberry harvest if you wrapped it up in plastic in early spring.

Nice work! Totally stealing! Glad to meet another gardener here on LJ.

-- Heh heh, you said "wood"

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

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