Prepare Mag: August 2018 - page 25

Cooling Covers for Summer
The heat of summer can cause many plants to wilt or even
die. Lettuce, peas and other cool season crops die out once
the heat sets in. Shade cloth in summer cuts down on the
amount of water you’ll need to use. Plastic containers under
shade cloth are much less likely to overheat and kill your
plants roots because the do not have the hot sun hitting
them. Black tends to absorb heat which will make the soil
inside the pot heat up. If the soil in the pot gets too hot and
begins to dry up the plants roots will also dry out, thus
causing the plant to die. Even heat loving plants such as
tomatoes, peppers and eggplants can look a bit pouty at the
end of the day when temperatures hit the 90 degree F
Covers that provide a bit of shade help cool the soil. The
cooler the soil can be kept the more moisture it will hold
and the cooler the plants root will be. Plants that have cool
roots and plenty of moisture will be less likely to wilt. When
plants wilt, it stresses them. Stressed plants do not perform
as well as plants that have all they need, so basically you can
use a cooling cover to keep your plants happy which will
increase the amount of fruit, flowers or vegetables you are
able to harvest.
It is not necessary to use cooling covers in fall, winter or
spring. This is an item that is used in summer, once the heat
begins to set in. Keeping plants too cool is as bad as letting
them overheat because plants that are too cool also fail to
perform as well as they should.
There are a variety of cooling covers to choose from. Your
choice will depend on where you live, how cool you need
the soil to be and the type of garden you have. For example,
a more formal garden may use lattice mounted on wooden
frames to cool their plants simply because it looks nicer.
Someone wanting to establish a shade garden who has
young trees that do not provide enough shade may need to
use solid shading. Solid shading could also be used in a
greenhouse situation. If you are propagating shade plants,
then of course, you will need shade and cool soil.
There are several ways to create shade in your garden or
field during the heat of summer. Spun-bonded row covers
are one way to cut down on some of the light that hits your
plants. Cutting down on the amount of light that hits your
plants is a great way to cool the soil. If you use a shade cloth
that blocks 20 percent of the light, your crop will still get
80% of the sun light but the soil will remain moist and the
plants roots cooler than if they were exposed to full sun. For
crops such as lettuce that can quickly bolt, this may help you
continue to get a harvest into mid-summer.
Spun-Bonded and Shade-Cloth Row Covers
A better way is to use shade cloth is as a row cover. Shade
cloth can be put on hoops directly over the plants, used to
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