Netted Enclosures

by Gentle World on February 25, 2011

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For some crops, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, it’s a good idea to use netted enclosures to protect them from insects. These nets can be used to protect any garden plants, especially when they are young and vulnerable.

It’s possible to use recycled water pipe to form the hoops, so if you can track down some water pipe that has small holes or is in someway unsuitable for its original purpose, it’s a great way of incorporating a recycling project at the same time.

First of all, you need to find a net that is a little longer (and wider) than the patch you would like to cover. These nets can be found in hardware stores or gardening centers, and you can also find them online. We’ve been fortunate enough to locate them second-hand at a local building recycler, so it’s worth thinking creatively about how to source them.

Once you have your net, you need to find some flexible pipe. The pipe needs to be cut at even lengths, long enough to cover the row with a nice height of 12-24 inches, to give the plants plenty of room.

When your pipe lengths are cut, you’re ready to construct the enclosure. First, press the pipe in on one side of the row (pushing it a few inches into the ground) then bend it up and over to form the arch, planting the other side into the dirt on the far side of the row. It’s important to space the hoops evenly, about every four feet or so.

When your hoops are in place, you can cover them with the net, and use garden staples (known as ‘landscape fabric pins’) or a heavy-gauge wire to tack the net down. This is a perfect opportunity to recycle old wire, as you can bend it to form a ‘u’ shape.

These netted enclosures will keep your young plants safe from insects and birds, but don’t rely on them to keep out rodents or other critters who can chew right through netting! To keep plants safe from larger creatures, proper fencing is required.

NB: On a couple of occasions, we have discovered birds who have managed to find their way under the net and have not been able to find a way out. So it’s essential to check the nets from time to time just to make sure that no one is trapped inside.

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