COVERING RAISED BEDS
If we have constructed our own raised beds and are enjoying the fruits of our labour – how about taking this adventure a step further, by making covers for same. This is a task that is not very difficult and when complete, adds the finishing touches to our bed frames. Regardless of the size or shape of our raised bed, this job can still be accomplished. If we are seasoned gardeners or just beginners to all of this, we will see the advantages of these covers as we become more accomplished in this area. The covers are especially useful if we have just planted-out young shrubs or young vegetables that are not yet hardened-off, also if there is a threat of night frosts then we need to cover our beds.
Types of cover:
There are several types of covers to choose from. We can always assemble our own or these can be easily purchased online. They can also be purchased from our local hardware or garden centre. The most common type of cover used for this exercise is polythene or plastic. This particular type of polythene is made to last and can withstand all types of harsh conditions; whether it is scorching hot summers or cold frosty winters. Another type of cover that is frequently used is a material called micromesh or fleece. The third option that is available is what is known as bird netting cover. This netting cover is very useful as well to keeep butterflies from our vegetable raised beds. As nice and all as butterflies appear – they do present a threat to the vegetable grower in the form of laying eggs etc etc, and are generally regarded as a pest.
Assembly of these covers is a really simple process and we does’nt require great technical skills, a little thought and creativity is what is needed here. Depending on the dimensions of our raised bed, for example let’s say that ours is approx 4ft wide; use 1” polythene piping bent in a hoop or semi-circle shape and secure to outside edges of bed. These ensure we have a smooth surface for the plastic or mesh cover. I would space these hoops approx 2ft apart, if we have say an 8ft bed then we require 4 in total. Run a little narrow strip of wood or similar material across the very top of the hooped polythene piping and secure all four semi-hoops to the timber strip. Place the polythene cover over these hoops and secure to main raised bed frame, by means of a 2″ X 1″ timber lathe or frame.
Advantages of cover:
A well secured cover on our raised bed will give us the feel and appearance of a glasshouse or greenhouse. The growing conditions are seriously enhanced and also provides a barrier to the many pests, slugs, birds and pets that may damage our fruit or vegetables. Along with protecting from harsh conditions, the cover will act to retain moisture, the temperature within this frame is always warmer than outside and this will act to stimulate growth practically all year round. If needs be, we can open this cover during daytime and let the air circulate within and can then be closed at night time. With the mesh or fleece system in place, this allows for air to circulate throughout and rain water to continually penetrate right through to the plants and soil. These covers are very practical, they are so easy to assemble and serves many purposes.