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50% Shade Fabric Alternatives?

 
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Hi friends,

The 50% shade cloth comes in handy on the farm for shading lettuce with hoops and such. I know in food forestry, the 50% shade is provided by the canopy of carefully spaced tree's, but what can I do in an intensive kitchen garden scenario to avoid using synthetic materials that need to be repurchased, etc... Going for an all natural, self-sustaining option, and just wanted to pick all of your brains on shade cloth, and how to provide al natural shade to to your kitchen gardens and vegetable farms. I like the idea of having something like a bamboo frame hoop covered with natural fabric (maybe burlap or a hemp/bamboo/cotton fabric? instead of the synthetic stuff?) But really just open to hearing all of your suggestions.

one last idea... a hedge of Neem tree planted all around the kitchen garden to provide shade/windbreak and deter insects with the natural neem oil? What do you think about that?
 
pollinator
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Arbor, pergola, or similar covered in vines. Could be really fancy, could be a cattle panel arch.
 
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Location: North East Scotland
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What about the loosely woven jute sacks that you get for storing potatoes in?
 
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Location: Okanogan County, WA
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I'm planning on building an arbor for shading our rabbits in the summer. We have tons of blackberry canes sitting around which I will knit together tightly for the roof and loosely for the sides. You won't get quite as small of sun flecks, but if you get 50% coverage with thin branches, you should average about right sun exposure on the veg throughout the day. One danger with any covering on veggies (shade cloth included) is that it will collect rain into larger drops. So be careful about rain right after planting, until the lettuce is large enough to handle it.
 
pollinator
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Old thinning bedsheets work alright especially if they're a light weave/color and it gives them some more life.
 
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Free trampolines from craigslist etc.  Use the jumping pad, and the side safety walls.
 
pollinator
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Chris rain wrote:Free trampolines from craigslist etc.  Use the jumping pad, and the side safety walls.



Won't that make it too hot for the plants? Between the trampoline pads being dark as well as a bit heavy and thickly woven, I would think they trap too much heat to be useful as shade cloths.
 
Chris rain
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I guess white would be better.  But I've sat under black shade covers on decks that were cooler than sitting in the raw sun.

Maybe it is possible to coat them with ash?  What kind of cheap adhesive could be used?  Put the cover under a cedar tree during sap season, then dust with ash?  Now I'm thinking an experiment is in order!

- TheRainHarvester on YouTube
 
pollinator
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The closest thing I can think of to shade cloth would be burlap coffee sacks. Could.probably be had for.free.

I'm curious if you've had bad experiences with shade cloth though? In my experience the synthetic stuff seems like it would last decades if taken down and stored well in the off season.

The most natural, lowest input solution would be some kind of vining plant though so you might want to explore those options
 
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Location: Richwood, West Virginia
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s. lowe wrote:

The most natural, lowest input solution would be some kind of vining plant



I've been pruning my staked Goji berry into a single cane in the spring and rooting the branches for use in an erosion control project that will soon be completed. You now have me motivated to experiment with shade by twining the tops of canes placed at three foot intervals outside on each side of a raised bed.



 
pollinator
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Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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Moringa trees make really nice 50% shade. I grow my garden in between rows of them and it works out really nicely.

As for neem, yes, great windbreak and the oil is an effective inspect repellent. The shade is really dense though, so don't plan on growing much under them. They grow so fast they're a great source of mulch and poles as well.
 
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