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Fine-meshed nets, fleece and foil are now standard equipment in the orchard and are more than just a substitute for a cold frame or greenhouse. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of different materials, you can use them specifically to advance the harvest by up to three weeks or to extend the cultivation time in the fall accordingly.
Frost and sun protection with garden fleece
Garden Fleece consists of finely woven, weatherproof acrylic fibers. Among them, radishes and lettuce, carrots and chard are protected from freezing to minus seven degrees. In summer you use the light and air permeable edition for shading heat-sensitive salads and other young seedlings. A disadvantage is that the fabric quickly becomes soiled in the wet, hardly stretchable and easily tears under tension. Therefore, it should be interpreted generously from the outset. With a standard bed width of 1.20 meters, a fleece width of 2.30 meters has proven itself. This leaves enough space for even higher plants such as leek and kale to develop undisturbed.
Garden Fleece keeps frost down to -5° C and ensures the ongoing harvest of endive, lamb's lettuce and winter spinach. If the leaves are still slightly frozen after an icy night, they must not be touched, otherwise they will become soggy when thawing
In addition to extra-light fabric (around 18 grams per square meter), thicker winter fleece is also available (around 50 grams per square meter), which is better used to protect potted plants. It insulates very well, but allows less light and is in the vegetable or herb bed because of the possible nitrate enrichment less recommended. To cover a frosty period, cover the bed better with two layers of normal fleece. The air layer trapped in between acts as an additional cold buffer.
Protective nets made of plastic
Culture protection nets made of recyclable plastic (polyethylene) are available in various designs. In order to prevent an infestation with vegetable flies, such as cabbage, onion or carrot fly, a mesh size of 1.4 millimeters is sufficient. So that neither fleas nor cicadas or aphids can slip through, nets are required with 0.5 to 0.8 millimeters mesh size. This is also true if you want to keep new pests, such as the cherry vinegar fly away from ripening fruits. The more closely meshed the net, the greater the additional benefit, for example as wind, cold or evaporation protection.
Conversely, the heat accumulates at high solar radiation and stagnant air. For vegetables that prefer moderate temperatures, such as spinach, you should remove fleece and nets from 22 degrees. Mediterranean fruit vegetables tolerate 25 to 28 degrees. As with bush beans and other vegetables, which are pollinated by insects, you must remove the cover from the beginning of flowering during the day in any case to ensure fertilization.
Vegetable cultivation under perforated foil (left) and under slot foil (right)
Perforated film has evenly spaced, about ten millimeters large, punched holes, yet the air circulation is low. It is best used in spring, because the temperature increase of three to five degrees kohlrabi, salad and radish are well protected against late frost. In the summer, however, threatens heat accumulation. Slit foil is preferably used in spring. As long as the vegetables are small, the fine slits are almost closed. The bigger the plants become, the wider they open and let more water and air through. Unlike perforated foil, slit foil can stay on the bed from seed to harvest
Plastic films are useful because of the high light transmission and the rapid warming of the soil during early cultivation. For the flat cover of the beds are perforated films that allow more air exchange, more suitable. High temperature fluctuations, however, also lead to condensation and it threatens fungal attack. In strong sunlight the plants burn. If you want to start into the new garden year at the beginning of March, when the nights are still very cold, double coverage is recommended. First place the fleece on the freshly sown or planted vegetables, stretch the foil over them and pull them aside on warm sunny spring days.
With sheets of wire three to five millimeters thick, which are placed at a distance of about 45 centimeters into the ground and covered with foil, an inexpensive tunnel construction (left) is created in no time. For airing, pouring or chopping, the foil, fleece or net is gathered at the side. The plant tunnel (right) can be unfolded like an accordion and unfolded just as quickly.The non-woven fabric in organic quality protects salad and strawberries from cold, wind, rain and hail. If you put down the front and back arch and hook it into the ground, the tunnel can be completely closed
Mobile, with tear-resistant insulating film covered tunnel constructions are a practical alternative to the permanently installed cold frame - provided they can be adequately ventilated! Even UV-stabilized and therefore longer-lasting films quickly become brittle and usually have to be replaced after one to two years. In contrast, a high-quality fleece is three to five years, a cultural protection network even up to ten years in use.