Shade Cloths + Trellis Ideas
Shading Your Plants
Now is the time of year to get creative with ways to make trellis space for your vining vegetables and/or creating shade for some of your plants if you're not in a well-shaded areas.
Most commonly, black shade cloths are used to protect plants and soils from the intense heat from the summer sun, but they can end up blocking out much of the necessary UV Rays that plants need—not to mention that the black cloth can get extremely hot and may damage your plants. White-woven shade cloths are ideal because they allow more of the helpful sunlight through without becoming to hot, reflecting much of the heat rather than soaking it up. We recommend SafeGrow's Weather Shield, a white shade cloth that has proven to protect our lettuces and mustard greens, giving us tasty and flavorful greens that are not bitter in the slightest. In the case of the Southern Giant Mustard, we get a killer wasabi flavor without too much heat and no bitterness—and we chalk a lot of that up to good shading techniques.
Often times, you can secure the Weather Shield to nearby trees or fence posts around your garden. But depending on your location, wind may be a factor in not allowing your shade canopy to remain secure. Or you may just have a few plants to protect. In those cases we recommend another of SafeGrow's products: The Solar Cone, a foam cone that works just like the weather shield. Secure it to the ground with stakes and sunlight and wind alike are no longer an issue.
Finding a good trellising method for your garden can be fun and easy even if you don't have a lot of space or have never created a trellis apparatus for your vining and overly-bushy plants. Just remember that a trellis can be anything that is suitable for the plant to cling to for stability. You probably seen fields of hops climbing up a web of twine or fields of grape vines clinging to trellis fences. The trellis cage for tomato plants and pepper plants is probably the most recognizable for home gardeners. It's simple design is suitable for a lot of garden vegetables. But depending on your space, it may not be most suited, such as container gardening and/or urban gardening where the limited space can make it awkward for the cage trellis.
Try taking wire clippers and turning your cage into a half circle and secure your plant with twine. This provided optimal lighting and it makes it much easier to move to more lighted or shaded areas as needed.
And don't neglect the chain-link fences that seem tailor-made for supporting vining garden vegetables like pole beans, cucumbers, and even watermelons and squash. We've even known folks who construct their trellis system out of long hard wooden stakes as their plant grows, securing it further with twine. Whatever your approach, trellising can be a fun way to experiment in pushing your plants to thrive even better!
- Jordan Freytag