Dry - Warm - Cool - Pest-free - Productive - Practical ... All Are Possible
THE SUMMER SUN IS GREAT FOR TOMATOES AND PEPPERS, BUT FOR FALL-PLANTED PEAS? NOT SO MUCH.
Shade cloth, available in several colors and shade percentages, creates a cool environment and makes possible a fall crop of cool-season vegetables. Lettuces, peas and cilantro thrive alongside eggplant, tomatoes and basil.
KEEPING IT COOL
We're in the upper south, where summers are hot and sticky. We covered our beds with Aluminet Shade Cloth, which is reflective and does not absorb heat as does the black cloth. (Shade cloth comes in white, as well.) Aluminet is a knitted cloth made from metalized HDPE and covered with an anti-oxidation coating and comes in shade levels ranging from 30% to 70%. We chose 60%, and found it reduced the under-cover temperature, on a very hot day, by 10º - 15º.
The shade cover employed, we were able to coax salad greens along for a few more weeks into summer, when out in the field, unprotected, the leaves would have crisped and withered.
|In order to mature a pea crop before frost about October 15th, we must plant the first week of August. It's 95º and humid then - everything it shouldn't be for peas to germinate. The shaded bed retains moisture longer, and the combination of leaf mulch and shade cloth created conditions condusive to germination.|
Cilantro, beets, scallions, and carrots will grow in our summer conditions, but do better kept a little cooler. For these crops, we used a lower shade percentage - a 40% - to give these plants a break from the heat. Cilantro was less apt to bolt. The carrot tops stayed lush and green until harvest. Bed to bed, by employing shade cloth in its varying percentages, or by using none at all, crops with different needs will thrive.
NEXT: KEEPING IT PEST-FREE
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