Jane GriffithsOld brooms protect your crop from birds

For the first ten or so years of growing vegetables I didn’t have too much of a problem with birds eating my crops. There would be a few nibbled leaves and I didn’t mind sharing. Then one year, almost all my Brassicas were stripped of their leaves in one afternoon by a marauding flock of louries. I tried shiny reflecting CD’s and twirly scarecrows, and I tried smelly seaweed spray but nothing prevented hungry mid-winter birds once they had discovered my garden. And they retained the memory. The following year, the louries were back, this time they were joined by mouse birds. So I went out and bought bird netting and battened down the hatches.

Recycled brooms in my garden

Recycled brooms in my garden

Recycled brooms in my garden (5)

Old worn-down brooms find a new purpose


One of the great pleasures my garden gives me is the beauty it provides. Almost every morning I find something new to photograph or look at in wonder. (This morning it was a hover fly, back lit in the bright sun, suddenly dropping a little hover fly sized poop which made me laugh!) The netting bothers me aesthetically because it is a barrier, albeit a delicate green one, between me and the visual smorgasbord of the plants. So it was with mixed feelings that today I again covered up my luscious brassica beds with netting.

I am quite a scavenger – if I see an abandoned wooden crate or pallets on side of the road, I go back with the Kombi to pick them up. A tree being cut down in the neighbourhood means firewood to be collected for our pile.  And I throw very little away. Old wooden fence slats, bamboo poles and tyres are piled behind my shed and in the shed are stashes of shade cloth, hessian, chicken wire and pots, all used and reused again and again. Many things are collected without a specific purpose – like the stack of worn down brooms and rakes in the corner.

Recycled brooms in my garden (3)

Scavenged materials and reused netting protects my vegies

Recycled brooms in my garden (1)

Remaining bristles hold the netting in place

When I put up bird netting for the first time, I hunted through my junk treasure trove to find something to support the netting – and spied the brooms. We use grass brooms with wooden handles and they have turned out to be the perfect bird netting support. The remaining bristles on the top hold the netting in place and the wooden handles are firmly pushed into the ground. I peg the edges of the netting into the ground using rosemary twigs – which are easily pulled out if I need access under the netting. The only thing I had to buy was the netting – which is reused year after year. As I am forced to put up a barrier between me and my vegetables, at least it is one that is as much recycled, reused and reinvented as possible.

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Jane Griffiths

About Jane Griffiths

Jane Griffiths is a television producer, writer, artist and traveller who has been growing organic vegetables and herbs in her Johannesburg garden for more than fifteen years. Her best-selling book Jane's Delicious Garden led to a vegetable revolution in South Africa, with thousands of home growers following in her green footsteps. This was followed by Jane's Delicious Kitchen, a collection of delicious recipes for cooking and preserving home grown produce. Her newly released Jane's Delicious Herbs provides a wealth of information on growing and using nearly eighty different herbs, whether it is for cooking, healing, cleaning, pet care or simply feeling good. Visit her website at Jane's Delicious Garden and follow her on Twitter @DeliciousJane

5 thoughts on “Old brooms protect your crop from birds

  1. A lovely idea, Jane. Unfortunately, I have only one such broom, and I still use it! Instead, I use wooden stakes with old plastic pots upended on the top, so the net doesn’t snarl. But it sure looks ugly!

  2. If I run into a coven of witches, I’ll send them your way, Jane. Those broomsticks are classic. Great idea. How do you get rosemary twigs strong enough to poke into the ground and hold netting in place? Mine are too flimsy.

  3. Hi Julie – it really does look like a coven has landed for tea 😉
    As far as the rosemary, I grow a variety called Tuscan blue, that has strong stems. You could also use bay twigs? Or any other twig that will hold the netting.
    And Helen – that is a good idea to put pots on the poles. Netting tangles unbelievably easily.

  4. Great idea. Your brooms look much more attractive than my poly pipe, supporting the glaring white insect mesh. I’ve seen black bird netting around and it ‘disappears’ better than the green.

  5. Think we all need shares in the company that makes all that netting, everyone is using it. The problem I have is that I forget to take it down and the next year the tree grows through it and that is a mess, believe me. I think I have more of my fig tree growing out side the net. The Kurrawongs will love me.

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