Shadecloth shelters for veggies

Protect your veggies from climatic extremes
Cathy Cromell

In the desert, vegetables need seasonal protection from freezing temperatures, drying winds, and intense sun. To shelter their crops, Master Gardeners Christina and John Grubb of Scottsdale, Arizona, created shadecloth tents over raised beds in their backyard.

On nights when freezing weather is predicted, the heavy shadecloth provides frost protection for their cool-season garden ― a colorful mix of herbs, edible nasturtiums, salad greens, and root crops. Later in the season, the same shadecloth will screen warm-season vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, from excessive sun and desiccating winds.

The Grubbs form the hoops by bending 10-foot-long sections of ½-inch-diameter PVC pipe into 42-inch-high arcs. They insert the flexible pipe into a bracket on one side of the 4-foot-wide bed, then bend the pipe over the bed and insert the other end into another bracket on the opposite side.

Christina installed plastic grommets along the edges of the shadecloth. To hold the fabric to the hoops, she inserts a plastic locking tie through each grommet hole and secures it loosely around the pipe, allowing her to slide the shadecloth up and down as needed.