Garden Travels: Crop Protection Covers

Crop Protection CoversOne of the great things about traveling to other countries and visiting other gardens is that you get a lot of wonderful ideas to put into practice in your own garden. Today, I want to show you some of the crop protection covers I saw while traveling through England last month.

I’m referring to the methods gardeners used to keep insects and critters away from crops that are particularly susceptible to them. Things like cabbage family crops (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and so on) or berry plants can always use some extra protection, right?

So let’s take a look at what I saw. I’m hoping they will give you ideas. And in several cases, you’ll notice they were using some natural materials like branches or bamboo stakes to support the covers.

I feel like a broken record here, but remember that you can click on any of the photos to view a much larger image. And in many of these cases, you definitely will want to!

In the first 2 photos, you’re looking at pea plantings, with the left being at Sissinghurst Castle and the right being from the Lost Gardens of Heligan. In the left photo, they’ve used large branches for pea supports as well as to cover the plantings (quite thoroughly, I might add) with netting. It was my understanding that rabbits are quite a problem in England so I believe some of the netting was to keep them out. I also suspect the tall netting was to keep birds away from them, but am not certain. However, I feel the openings in the netting would be too large to keep insects away.

Crop Protection Covers    Crop Protection Covers

In the next two photos, the gardeners used a very fine, lightweight screen to cover their cabbage family crops. This would be for insect control. The first photo was taken in Avebury Manor garden and the second was in the garden at Stourhead.

 Crop Protection Covers   Crop Protection Covers   

For those who grow strawberries and get frustrated by birds eating them, how about the next two ideas? The photo on the left (from Sissinghurst) is of the ultimate strawberry crop protection! They had made frames with metal pipes and attached bird netting to them. Perhaps it’s also to keep rabbits away. On the right (from Lost Gardens of Heligan), they used small metal hoops to support netting over the rows of strawberry plants.

Crop Protection Covers   Crop Protection Covers 

The next three photos show netting covering cabbage family crops, again for insect control. Photos #1 and #3: Chartwell (Churchill’s home), photo #2: Sissinghurst. In photo #3, a gardener was telling me how the zippered cover was something new they were excited to try this year and felt it would be easier to work with. I wonder if something like that is sold in the States? (or maybe I could make one?)

 Crop Protection Covers   Crop Protection Covers  

Crop Protection Covers

The last 2 photos were taken in Avebury Manor garden, and they illustrate a method for caging berry plants (in this instance, raspberries and currants) to keep birds from eating the fruit. The structures were quite simple and covered with bird netting.

Crop Protection Covers   Crop Protection Covers

OK, are you heading out to your garden next, to see what you can create?