Thomas J. Story
In garden beds, plastic 6-inch by 6-inch mesh netting is practically indispensable. Install it horizontally over cutting-flower seedlings to support varieties that tend to flop over.
'Blue Boy' bachelor's button, carnations, delphiniums, dianthus, lilies, scabiosa, and tall calendulas can grow up through it.
Try the following method to support the netting. (Width varies; seed grower Renee Shepherd and her staff used 4-foot-wide netting to cover the bed in her Felton, California, test garden).
Cut the netting the length of the bed plus 8 inches, then wrap and staple each end around a sturdy, 4 1/2-foot-long wooden stake, leaving 3 inches of uncovered stake at each end.
On four additional 4- to 6-foot-long stakes, halfway sink nails every 6 inches into one side of each (depending on the ultimate height of the flowers), starting 2 feet from the stakes' bottoms. Angle the nails upward.
Pound the four stakes 12 inches into soil at each corner of the bed so the heads of the nails face away from the longest edges of the bed. Stretch the netting across the bed, and rest the netting stakes on the nails at the appropriate height for the plants. If the bed is longer than 10 feet, add vertical stakes along the long edges to support the netting.
Plastic mesh is available by mail from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply ( www.groworganic.com or 888/784-1722).