It’s not that long since it was spring, and cold, and my young plants needed hardening off, but it has been long enough that both of my raised bed covers had been put away for the year. Their plastic covers are great for keeping out the weather, but once it’s warm they can become overheated death traps. I’m still using my Elho grow table, which has proved very useful. Like a propagator on legs, it has been looking after plants outside for weeks. Currently it’s home to my purple sprouting broccoli seedlings, doing a great job of keeping them safe from marauding cabbage white butterflies. It’s in a shadier spot, so it hasn’t overheated, and yet the plants in it get far more light than they did inside, so they’re happy.
But it’s not a permanent solution, and the time is fast approaching when they will need planting out (and there will be some free space to plant them into!). Last year I left my brassicas uncovered; there was some caterpillar damage, but they recovered. I don’t like having to pick off caterpillars, though, so this year we ordered some insect netting, and some canes, and at the weekend we set about making a frame to go over the brassicas, to hold up the netting.
As the garden’s Chief Engineer, Ryan is invaluable. He’s great at envisioning how things will fit together. But this time it was me that had the breakthrough, when I realised we could use the raised bed cover frames and make our own net cover for them. They’re extremely sturdy, and fit the beds nicely, and were just sitting about in the shed.
So we put one frame back together again, and – with a combination of Ryan’s excellent engineering skills and my dodgy sewing – we’ve made a netting cover that fits over the top. It’s held on with pegs, although I suppose at some point I could sew on some ties 😉 It’s not like the plastic covers, though – we don’t need to worry about ‘lift off’ when it’s windy! (It’s pretty much always windy in this garden.)
We have two frames, and enough insect netting to make two covers. The first one is now protecting the ripening blueberries from hungry birds. We’ll make the second one in time to cover the purple sprouting broccoli when it gets planted out, and hopefully this year it will stay caterpillar-free!
When we ordered the netting, the image on the packaging was white. As you can see, the netting is actually fluorescent green/yellow. It’s not that unpleasant, it blends into the lighter greens in the garden, but it does have a strange side effect in that it attracts insects from all over the garden. Even whilst I was sewing the cover, it was crawling with pollen beetles. I spotted the robin sitting on the frame this morning, pecking his breakfast off the netting….