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Plant covers - details, please

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Plant covers - details, please

Post  dsmdeb on 5/5/2012, 10:56 am

I have read here and in the book about using plastic, tulle, and shade cloth for protecting plants from the elements, and have several questions:

- Are each of these 3 multi-purpose? In other words, could tulle, for example, provide shade and relief from excess heat, and cover for severe weather?
- What are advantages/disadvantages of one over the other?
- Where is the best place to get each of these?
- What would I look for? Is there a certain grade of plastic? Do you choose white over clear?

Thanks!
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  Turan on 5/5/2012, 9:10 pm

@dsmdeb wrote:I have read here and in the book about using plastic, tulle, and shade cloth for protecting plants from the elements, and have several questions:

- Are each of these 3 multi-purpose? In other words, could tulle, for example, provide shade and relief from excess heat, and cover for severe weather?
- What are advantages/disadvantages of one over the other?
- Where is the best place to get each of these?
- What would I look for? Is there a certain grade of plastic? Do you choose white over clear?

Thanks!

I will make a stab at this, but mostly to raise it up the raft because there are others who know this a lot better than me.

Yes, most are dual purpose to some degree or other.
Floating row covers come various weights with lesser to greater cold weather protection but allow light, moderated air and water through. They make a light shade so protect from sun/wind scald. The lightest are very useful to protect from insects and for new transplants. Heavier ones are best for frst scares and new transplants in cold weather.
Plastic lets no water in nor out unless you make certain of ventilation. It traps heat, which makes for my greenhouse. THe stuff at the hardware store is not UV protected but still lasts a season or so. I got my greenhouse film from Farmtek http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/cat1a;ft1_greenhouses_accessories.html
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  quiltbea on 5/5/2012, 9:27 pm

I prefer using different covers for different needs.

1) Light-weight row cover to keep off insects, allows sunlight and rain, but also increases the degrees by 1 or 2 at the most.

2) Heavier-weight row cover to protect from frosty nights since it protects down to 28*F which means the difference between losing a plant or not.

3) Cheesecloth stretched over wire clothes hangars to protect my cool-weather crops like lettuce, spinach and radishes from too much heat which makes them bolt. I can harvest them a little longer. It also protects newly-transplanted crops from too much sunlight the first 2 or 3 days of their garden life.

Plastic or vinyl plastic is reserved to cover my A-frame for starting seeds and plants sooner than normally expected in my cold north country and also to extend my fall crops into early winter. It protects from wind and rain and snow and gives the plants an extension in life. It also heats up the soil if laid over a bed so you can plant your early crops like turnip, sooner but can also protect if a snowstorm is imminent thereby making it easier to clear off the bed for planting.

As you can see, I need them all and all for different reasons.
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your replies lead to more questions...

Post  dsmdeb on 5/5/2012, 11:11 pm

Thanks for your replies, Turan and Quiltbea. Since the chance of frost seems to be over, the main needs are going to be protection from heat and rain/severe weather.

What would be the difference between tulle and cheesecloth? Would either/both of those be considered light-weight row covers? What do you use for a light-weight and heavier-weight row cover? If even the light-weight cover increases the temp, that may not be what I need.

What type of insects are you trying to keep off? Pollinators?

I haven't planted anything yet, by the way.

Thanks again...
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  quiltbea on 5/6/2012, 8:49 am

@dsmdeb......Tulle or cheesecloth serve the same purpose. They produce a little shade. Tulle and cheesecloth cannot be used to prevent frost. It allows a little less sunlight than normal and rain can penetrate.

Floating row covers are very light. You can lay them right on top of your plants and as the plants grow taller, the row cover moves with them. They prevent nasty bugs from laying eggs on your leaves, eating them, and ruining a plant. They can also prevent birds from eating your berries. They are called names like Agribon and come in different weights. The lightest keep bugs away which includes pollinators. When your plants start to blossom, you need to remove row covers so bees and insects and wind can pollinate your crops as their needs require. When little fruits start to develop, you can cover the plants again to prevent bug damage.

Row covers also come in heavy weights to increase temps beneath and to prevent frost developing. The heavier the row cover, the less light transmission to your plants.

Suppliers also sell a knitted shade cover that produces 30% shade for moderate climates good for cool-loving plants and also to protect tomatoes and peppers against excessive temps, like the 90s. There's some that produce 50% shade for southern gardens.



above: Here is light-woven cheesecloth covering my coldframe where lettuce is growing. It produces enough shade so the lettuce doesn't bolt from the increased daily temps.



above: The white is floating row cover to prevent the birds from eating my strawberries.

I hope this helps you a little.
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  dsmdeb on 5/6/2012, 10:42 am

Yes, it does. Thank you, Quiltbea
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  Turan on 5/6/2012, 1:07 pm

I suspect that those knitted shade clothes stretched over a frame (like a greenhouse frame or carport frame) would make a hail protected enviroment that stays cooler.

I am trying to think further south than I am, my thoughts right now are all about that it frosted last night and should tonight, sigh.
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  BetsyC on 5/6/2012, 7:25 pm

I know that cheesecloth can be kind of flimsy, but it looks like it works beautifully. Do the floating row covers purchased commercially last a while? Thank you for the help!
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  quiltbea on 5/7/2012, 11:25 am

@Betsey......The floating row covers last a good long while. I'm into my 3rd year with mine and they are in perfect shape.
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preventing bolting

Post  dsmdeb on 5/18/2012, 2:01 pm

When should you cover things to prevent bolting? I think I will try quiltbea's method of cheesecloth stretched over hangers since some squares will need it and others will not. Do you use a double layer of cheesecloth?

I planted seeds a few days ago, and some are beginning to sprout. Is now the time to cover? Temps are in the 80's and near 90. My leafy plants are lettuce, kale, collards, basil, and sage. Could all of those bolt?
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  CindiLou on 5/18/2012, 3:55 pm

Deb I am just south of you. Our lettuce won't bolt for a bit yet. Unless temps stay in the high 80s to 90s and don't cool off at night. A little shade will help them last longer.
Sage doesn't bolt it blooms but you can still use it. I don't grow kale so can't say about that. Basil won't bolt but you have to keep it pruned so that is don't bloom.
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

Post  dsmdeb on 5/20/2012, 2:55 pm

So... let's say the weather stays in the 80's & 90's. Would you be more likely to cover a sprout, or wait till it's so many inches high?
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Re: Plant covers - details, please

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