Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Even My Garden Has Fabric In It

I'm an avid gardener, but I have a lot of trouble with animals wreaking havoc with my plants.  When I plant new seedlings, crows and squirrels have at it and often uproot a whole row in a day. It's devastating and if I don't catch it right away, the tender seedlings will dry out in the sun and die.

Even worse, something will snap off a whole row of new plants right at the base for seemingly no reason.  I am pretty sure that's crows too.  They do it because they are just bastards.

My 4 feet of chicken wire fencing keeps out the rabbits and deters some animals but squirrels are brazen and they'll climb in there even if I'm standing there.

Another issue I've had for the past few years is cabbage worms.  They love broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.  They are fuzzy green caterpillars that eat until they just about explode and then turn into the pretty little white butterflies I always think means summer is here. 

Now I just know it means there are more egg layers out there making me do battle all summer long.

This year, I've resorted to using the thin white insect barrier cloth to see if a) I can give some seedlings a little more protection and b) I can keep the cabbage worms away completely.

First, I went to the ag supply store and bought 10 pieces of 2 foot rebar.  This is that really ugly metal stuff that is about 3/8 inch thick and rusts right away but that has amazing uses in the garden.

Then I cut some plastic pipe we had around here to 5 feet each.  My fabric is 6 feet wide and I wanted enough to sit on the ground  on each side so it could be tied down.

Then I put the rebar in the ground until about 1 foot remained on top and pushed the pipe over it.  I did this because I think the pipe needs to have something to make it stay on the ground or it will just flex and fall over and not work.

I bought a 6 foot by 50 foot pieces of fabric so I cut it in half and did one 25 foot row.  I would like to get one more hoop in there and I have enough fabric left to do that.

Once I covered it all over, I had trouble deciding how to hold it down.  I want to use some kind of clips, but what I found weren't really big enough and they kept popping off because I chose a very windy night to do this.

They recommend using the metal stakes that you'd use to hold down weed fabric or even a tent.  Also known as ground staples.  I didn't want to put holes in it, so I twisted the fabric and stuck the metal stakes over it snugly.

You can see everything blowing in the wind but I think it's pretty well anchored.  The end where I start the video is where I'd like to add one more hoop, so for now, it's wrapped around a cylinder and a cement block is pushed against it to hold it in placec.

The manufacturer says it lets in 90% of sunlight and rain but keeps the bugs out.  It's kind of like that polyester stuff that it seems everyone is using for grocery bags and stuff.  It feels durable but if you stepped on it and gave it a good tug, I think it would tear. 

I'm very curious about how it will hold up and if it will make any kind of difference.

I've had terrible luck with my squash the past few years because of the squash vine borer and this will keep them away but then the bees can't get in to pollinate.  What I've planted so far is just spinach and cauliflower which don't need pollinating.

If I see that this works for the cabbage worms, I might do something similar with squash and figure out something for the pollinators.  There is a short window around here for the moths to lay the squash borer eggs, so if I can keep them covered during that window, I should be good to open them later and have no problems.

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