The sun is up and the cool has gone, welcome but rough transition for some of us in the garden world. In fact last Friday, I boldly removed my covers from my garden at SFCC, which is highly exposed to sun and wind. Everyone was delighted to ‘finally see what was hiding under there’, but was nervous. I was in a rush and just went for it, crossing my fingers the rain would be light & gentle and the gray skies would protect my newly transplanted babies…..Alas no such luck!! The weather at my house is extremely different than at SFCC and it turned out the ‘rain’ there was actually hail, damaging all my newly exposed plants and even killing some newly planted ones.
But the ones that had been babied under row cover got deeply scarred by the rough weather.
So what is a gardener to do? Because row cover and custom covers are somewhat sensitive to sun and wind, I like to store them in the summer, so I can really use them when I need them in the colder months, and get the most life out of them possible. However, a totally exposed garden in the high desert sun can really suffer from sun and wind and yes, summer hail storms…. So here is my solution, actually it is not mine, it is my husband’s idea, he is the brains behind most of our operations.
We bought these grass mats at Lowes that are used for fencing out your neighbors view of your yard. We cut them into 5 ft pieces and laid them over our cattle panel hooped beds last year. They provide great shade to a very hot part of our garden and made it useable all season. So this season I did the same at the SFCC garden.
Since these beds have hoops built-in, I just wired the mats to the middle bar, the sides are just clipped down so I can unclip and roll them back for easy access to harvest. They work like a charm and look nice too, since hundreds of people walk through this garden every day, that matters!
At home, I put them over my greens so they last just a little bit longer into the summer. Crazy shadows make things taste better too!!
They also work really well to shade things right after transplanting. After a week or so they can be removed, but transplanting can be quite and shock, so protection really helps those little guys adapt. So, since I already have had 4 people ask me, “Where do I get those”, here you go……
This ‘Natural Reed Fencing’ is found in the way back right corner of he Lowe’s garden section with the fencing stuff. I tried big Joe’s on Siler and they DO NOT carry them, so don’t try there. These cost me $24.97 each and since I cut them into 3 5ft pieces, that means $8.32 per piece. They will last me many years if I store them well when I am not using them….so I say totally worth it, especially if one is investing cash into baby plants this year. You can of course use other things for the same effect, like old window blinds or how about loosely woven coffee sacks? Anything that let’s rain, wind, bugs and some sun through is good.
Whatever you choose, do consider a little sun screen for you and your plants this summer, you will all weather the weather better that way.
PS– Just a footnote on a big lesson learned (or reiterated) to me this week:
Trust you instincts
Make transitions slowly and
Don’t be afraid to protect your little ones so they can get well established before toughing up to the bright, windy, wild world.