Row cover adaption

When we planted for a fall harvest, we did as much as we could to make row covers to protect our seedlings. We had enough materials for only two chicken wire covers, then made do with other materials for the third bed.

We rigged what we could to protect the last bed, but the grasshoppers really did a number on the seedlings. I ended up using old water bottles with their bottoms cut off to protect the remaining bits of seedlings, hoping they would recover. As you can see by the green in some of the bottles, there has been growth!

They can’t stay under the bottles, though, as they need wind and air to be strong. However, if we just took off the bottles, they’d only get eaten by critters.

The bed nearby was pretty much wiped out by the grasshoppers.

Even though the ends of the covers were open, the critters didn’t seem to want to go under them, but there is no such barrier for the grasshoppers!

The third bed is doing a bit better. The radishes may have lots of damage to them, but they’re the biggest ones we’ve got right now. The only surviving chard is in this bed, too.

Since the middle bed was the most damaged, I decided to modify the cover and move it to another bed. In cleaning up the new part basement, we found a roll of window screen. I’d used some of it to make covers for the rain barrles, but there was still quite a bit left.

The cover is wider than the mesh. One length of it was enough to cover most of the chicken wire, but after cutting the remaining mesh in half and adding it, I was left with a small gap.

The edges of the screen were stapled to the wood frame, including enough to cover the ends. I tided down the mesh to the chicken wire just enough to keep it from moving.

A dear friend had sent us a couple of those mesh curtains that are meant to go over doors. The idea being, the mesh would keep the bugs out, but still allow wind in. They are tacked to the door frame, and the middle is held closed with magnets. The hope was that we could set them up in the old basement door, to keep the cats from going in there, but they could just push their way through the magnets. 😦

One of the panels was perfect to cover the gap.

The outer edge is stapled to the frame. The fabric is reinforced there, since it’s supposed to be tacked onto a door frame, so there is no damage there. Amazingly, the magnets are holding to the chicken wire enough to keep it one!

Once it was ready, it was time to set up the garden bed.

Even covered by water bottles, there was still grasshopper damage!! Some had never recovered from being eaten, at all. While removing the bottles, the soil wanted to stick to the them, too, and that quite nearly pulled up several of the plants. 😦

After making sure those that had been disturbed had soil pressed in for supper, it was time to add the new cover.

I’m quite happy with this.

It will be worthwhile to get more window screen mesh!

Since the ends are covered with window screen, it made it easier to add the shade cloth.

The surviving seedlings in the now-uncovered bed to things much bigger than little water bottles to protect them. The grasshoppers can still get in, but it’s still better than nothing.

Then all the beds got their shade cloths to protect them from the heat of the day.

When we make our permanent raised beds, they will be shorter. I actually like the length of these – they’re about 15 feet long – but it makes the protective covers awkward to handle, and we just didn’t have the materials to make them the same length. The covers are only about 13 feet long. I’m thinking 10 feet will work better, but we shall see when the time comes.

Until we can get the materials to build them, it’s a moot point, anyhow!

Whatever we end up with, having window screen mesh on a frame to keep the insects out seems to be more practical than the mosquito netting we’re using as floating row covers.

The Re-Farmer

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