With temperatures rising across the country many gardeners are now witnessing their early spring crops starting to bolt. Our company garden has seen a heat wave with record highs and a 3 week dry spell that caused our collards and spinach to go to seed. We cleaned them out depositing the stems in our composter and prepped the bed to plant again. In the meantime however, we wanted to save our black seeded simpson lettuce and other greens from following in the collards footsteps.
We looked around the office, paced the garden, scratched our heads and then it hit us. We need to give these plants a bit of shade and relief from the heat. We happened to have several burlap coffee bean sacks lying around from a shipment of asparagus crowns just waiting to be reused and repurposed. Burlap is a great material to use to create a sun shade since it has a wide weave allowing rainfall and some light through. We call our creation the shade hut.
We like to stay earth friendly in the company garden so our repurposed coffee bean bags were given a third life. We started by ripping the seams out of the burlap sack and opening it up flat. If you are covering a large area you may have to use more than one sack or you can buy burlap by the yard at most fabric stores.
Next we hammered in stakes at the corners of the bed; we used rebar that again we had left over from another project. Wood stakes, broom handles or piping would work too, as long as they are tall enough to clear the mature plants.
After marking our corners off we used monofilament wire to create a platform for the burlap to lie on. The monofilament, attached to the rebar a few inches from the top in an X, keeps the burlap from sagging and helps support the weight of the burlap when wet.
We cut small holes in the burlap and pulled it over the rebar stakes, allowing for the south side to hang down to the ground. You could use twine or self-locking ties to further attach the burlap to the stakes but we haven’t found it necessary. We created our shade hut in the simplest form; you could however install it in a tent style or with PVC as a mini hoop house for even more shade coverage.
It has been a week since we installed our shade hut over our wilting cabbage and lettuce bed. I am happy to report that the cabbage has perked up and the lettuce is looking great! We can’t wait to enjoy the fruits of our labor in the coming weeks.