Protect Summer Crops From Birds and Sun With Garden Netting

Protect summer crops from scorching sun and scavenging birds with garden netting, includes information on shade netting, bird netting and sources for garden netting fabric.

| July/August 1988

Protect summer crops from scorching sun and scavenging songbirds with garden netting. 

Protect Summer Crops From Birds and Sun With Garden Netting

Once upon a time, an acorn plunked Chicken Little on the head, convincing the skittish hen that the entire sky was falling. As a gardener, I can empathize with that feathered paranoiac. When a hot July sun shrivels up tender greens or flying thieves ransack the fruits I nursed from seedhood, I, too, feel like the sky may be tumbling down upon all my gardening efforts. Our fabled chicken covered her head with tiny wings. Fortunately, we can use better shields—shade and bird nettings. They are, indeed, wonderful panaceas for two of summer's most common gardening headaches.

Shade Garden Netting

I understand the reluctance of most growers to intentionally exclude sunlight with a shade garden netting—we've all read over and over how important it is for crops to get enough sun. But there are times when parts of any garden, except in areas with the coolest summers, could benefit from a bit of extra shade.

Consider some examples. Perhaps you've dreamed of a picture-book fall garden, but were brought back to reality when sunburned broccoli seedlings gave up the ghost. Maybe you've wished you could still enjoy fresh lettuce when the tomatoes ripen in July. Or you might wonder what to do about an August carrot sowing that never sprouted due to lack of moisture and drying winds.

Let shade cloth come to the rescue.

Inventive gardeners have made shade for years using window screening, onion bags, snow fencing and taller plants, but now the highly effective nettings that have long been in commercial use are available for home growers, as well. Woven from polypropylene or saran, this black, green or clear material buffers the brunt of the sun's rays and helps cool the air (much as window screens do in your home). As a bonus, shade cloth also slows the force of drying winds.

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