The strawberry, the symbol of early summer, is on the way, and we must prepare for its arrival. If we wish to avoid losing the lot to the birds or finding it face down in the mud and full of holes, now is the time to attend to its needs.

Pack clean straw under the plants to give the fruits a soft mattress and deter the slug, then fix low metal arches along the row at intervals. Stretch netting over the arches to form a tunnel, and secure it well at all the edges-a blackbird can be surprisingly determined.

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