Coldness has hit and we’re in the midst of making sure our gardens continue to survive it. Melbourne is very chilly this year. We have seen lots of frost which means that if you haven’t organised protective structures yet, get onto it. What are protective structures? These are netting structures which will protect plants from the harsh heat or cold and also rodents or other pests.
There is a myriad of different types. Some with bamboo or timber frames – made by materials lying around; others made from poly-piping or metal rods or even a hard plastic. There are also a diverse amount of “netting” which can be used. It comes down to: Use, cost and capabilities.
Mostly, you are able to use a few bits of timber, lashed together with some twine and a bit of netting tied on. The positives of the netting, is that it will keep the pests out, it will also minimise frost and its very cost-effective as it can be used in Winter as well as in Spring, when the birds are at their worst. The frames are important, as you need to have as much air flow around the plants as possible, so they don’t end up with mildew or something else. The following are a few different versions of protective structures during the harsh weather and from birds and other pests.
These are the easiest, least expensive and works really well. This one is protecting eggplant seedlings. They were hit hard by frosts.
Netting used is the same we use throughout the year for birds.
Shade cloth is also a good resource for frosts. When working at a native nursery, 100 years ago, they had their frost intolerant plants under a shade cloth. Rows and rows of plants with air coming from either direction but sheltered from above. In vegie gardens this could work as well. If you have a row of brassicas or species prone for frost, then a temporary shade cloth could be erected. If you have a small garden, individually covering plants may be easier.
It may be cold but it may not be wet. So to warm the plants as well as water conservation, mulch – mulch – mulch. If you are on a budget, why not use the leaves which dropped in autumn? Especially medium sized leaves. Ornamental pears for example. If using larger leaves, do not pile them too high or they will not breakdown.
Compost as well as this ensures nutrients will go into the soil as well as to the plants.