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Netting can save your spinach from being eaten by birds or other animals before you get to harvest it yourself. It only makes sense to use netting for spinach in certain situations, though, and it can be a waste of time and money otherwise. That said, it might make sense for you to do it, and it might even mean the difference between huge spinach harvests and no harvests at all. Let’s find out if you should use netting for your spinach.
Spinach only needs netting if it is grown outside in a place where birds and other animals tend to come into the garden and eat the plants. If birds and other wildlife do not come to the garden to eat, there is no need to use netting. Spinach growing inside or in a greenhouse also doesn’t need netting.
Keep reading as I go into more detail about when it makes sense to use netting for your spinach and when it is just a waste. I also explain how to set it up. If you don’t like the idea of using a net or protective mesh, I have also found three alternative methods for keeping birds and other wildlife away from your spinach, which I cover at the end of the article.
Should You Use Bird Netting to Protect Your Spinach?
Whether or not your spinach needs netting depends on a couple of things. If it doesn’t really need it, it is a shame to spend money and time on buying and setting it up, so let’s start by figuring out if it is worth it.
To figure out if bird netting is the right solution for you, I have come up with some different situations. Some situations where you should definitely set up bird netting or protective mesh for your spinach, some where you should consider it, and some where it definitely doesn‘t make sense to set up bird netting for your spinach. See which of the situations I list is most similar to yours and just do that.
Later in the article, I explain how to set up bird netting, and after that, I cover three alternative methods for protecting your spinach against birds and other wildlife.
Use bird netting if birds or other animals are eating your plants
If you live somewhere with a lot of birds or other wildlife, you might want to consider protecting your spinach with some bird netting. It will not only keep birds out but also other animals such as deer or smaller critters. Anything that can’t fit through the holes in the net essentially.
If you sometimes see birds or other animals in your garden eating some of your plants, you should definitely cover your spinach with some bird netting to protect it.
Remember that you won’t always see the birds or whatever animals are eating your spinach. Some of them tend to be very elusive and only come and eat your garden plants when you are not there, for example, at night.
If your plants are getting eaten or if you see signs that animals have been digging around in your soil or otherwise damaging your plants, set up some bird netting.
Keep in mind that other animals such as slugs and certain insects can also eat your spinach and won’t be stopped by bird netting. If you suspect it is birds or some larger animals that can be stopped by a net, it is definitely worth it to set one up.
Consider bird netting if there are birds and other wildlife in the area
There might be birds or other animals around the area you live in, but you might never see them in your garden. Maybe they only come to your garden at night or when you are not there. Another explanation is that they just never come to your garden. If animals do come to your garden, bird netting might be a good idea, but if not, it is not worth it.
As I explained above, you won’t always see the animals so look for signs of birds or other animals. This could be damaged or eaten plants or leaves or signs of digging in the ground around your plants.
If you know for a fact that there are birds and other wildlife around your garden and you are worried they will come and eat your plants, I recommend setting up some bird netting. It is a cheap and simple way to make sure most animals can’t get to your spinach. If you do that, you won’t have to worry.
Keep in mind that just because there are birds and other animals in the area, it doesn’t mean that your spinach is in danger. The birds and other animals might very well have plenty of food and prefer something else than your spinach. But again, if you are worried they might eat your plants, bird netting is a cheap and easy solution.
Consider bird netting if your spinach is not sprouting
If you have trouble getting your spinach to sprout, it could be because of birds either eating the seeds before they sprout or the seedlings before you get to see them. In either case, bird netting would solve your problem.
There are several things other than birds that can cause spinach to not sprout. I recommend reading this article if your spinach isn’t sprouting, but if you have a strong feeling that it is because of birds, go ahead and set up some bird netting.
Rarely consider bird netting if your spinach is in a greenhouse
Birds and other animals are rarely a problem for plants that grow in a greenhouse. Because of that, it only very rarely makes sense to use bird netting in a greenhouse.
The only situation in which it makes sense to use bird netting to protect plants in a greenhouse is if the greenhouse is open enough for birds and other animals to get inside.
I have never used bird netting in my greenhouse. I usually keep the greenhouse door and a window a little bit open for better air circulation but I have still never had any issues with birds or other animals (other than slugs and insects). If you live in an area with a lot of wildlife, your situation might be very different, though.
Do not use bird netting if your spinach is indoors
If you are growing your spinach indoors, for example, next to a window, you should not have to worry about birds or other animals coming to eat it since they can’t get to it (unless you have spinach-loving pets).
The only animals you might have to worry about if you grow your spinach indoors are insects and bird netting won’t help against those anyway. It might help against those spinach-loving pets from before, though.
How to Set up Bird Netting to Protect Spinach
If you decide to set up bird netting to protect your spinach, it is very important that you set it up correctly. If you do it wrong, birds and other animals can get trapped.
I have seen (pictures of) people covering their whole garden with bird netting. That is a huge project and, in my opinion, completely unnecessary. Sure it will keep all birds out of the garden, but I honestly don’t think that is a good thing.
Birds eat slugs and insects, so the best thing you can do is to allow them into your garden while still keeping them off your spinach. Here is how you can do that:
To cover spinach with bird netting, fasten the net to the ground next to the plants using garden pegs or hooks, then place some sticks among the plants to keep the net elevated and unroll the net, attaching it to the sticks to keep it elevated and then fasten it to the ground on the other side of the spinach.
Make sure there are no big holes that any birds or other animals can get through.
If you prefer to see how to set it up, I found this great video. They use metal wire to keep the net elevated, which seems like a very good solution.
When you set up bird netting, make sure no parts of the net are hanging loose or blowing in the wind, but instead, make it as tight as possible to minimize the risk of birds or other animals getting stuck in it. You can read more about why that is important in this paper by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the United Kingdom.
Other Ways to Protect Spinach From Birds (And Other Animals)
There are several ways to protect your plants from birds and other animals. Bird netting is very efficient since it physically prevents the animals from getting to the plants, but it is certainly not the only method, and if setting up bird netting seems like too big of a project right now, I have found some other solutions for you.
Here are three methods for protecting your spinach without using bird netting.
Use flash tape to protect your spinach
Flash tape is a pretty cool product. I don’t use it personally, but my father-in-law has been using it to protect his fruit trees for a while with great success.
Flash tape is essentially just some strips of tape that you hang up around the plants you want to protect. The tape moves around in the wind and flashes as sunlight hits it from different angles. Birds often associate this flashing with movement and will stay away from the plants.
To protect your plants from birds with flash tape, you can set up some sticks around your spinach and attach some strips of flash tape to them.
Flash tape usually comes in relatively large rolls, so you have to cut it into pieces that are about a foot (about 30 cm) long. You can use larger pieces if you hang the tape up in trees or somewhere it can move around in the wind, or you can use smaller pieces if that makes more sense.
Set up a scarecrow to keep birds from your spinach
Scarecrows can be many things. They can look like the one in the photo above, or they can look like any type of predatory bird. The point is simple; to scare smaller birds to make them stay away from your garden and, more specifically, your plants.
Grow spinach in a mini greenhouse to keep birds away
A very effective solution to keeping birds and other animals away from your spinach is to grow it in a greenhouse where the animals can’t get to it. Greenhouses are expensive though, but I have a solution for that.
If you don’t have a greenhouse and don’t plan on getting one right now, you can get a cheap mini greenhouse. The idea behind it is precisely the same as a regular greenhouse, but it is much smaller, much easier to move around, and, of course, much much cheaper to get.
The only thing you should know about growing spinach in a greenhouse is that it tends to start bolting faster than if you grow it outside because it tends to get very warm in a greenhouse. You can read this article in which I explain what to do when spinach is bolting, how to delay bolting, and much more for when that happens.
An easy thing you can do to make sure it doesn’t get too warm in the mini greenhouse is to open the zippers a bit to improve the airflow, but don’t open it so much that birds and other animals can get in.