I have been asked:
“In several of your articles you mention support netting to keep plants straight and tall, not blown over by wind and rain. Would you explain the “what” and “how” of that process for a home gardener?”
Support netting is a tool that I learned of early on in my growing career–but did not heed to using on a regular basis until I suffered an easily avoidable loss. I watched the rain pound several beds of flowers to the ground that were almost ready to harvest in a twenty-minute downpour. Weeks of work and lots of $$ gone in minutes. From then on I have become a faithful user of support netting.
We normally apply the netting as soon as the floating row covers are removed from our plantings (2-3 weeks). The netting installation instructions are below and I will add that on small beds (10 feet long) I don’t normally weave the stake at the ends; I just slip the netting over the stakes. The netting’s final resting spot on the fully grown plant is at about the 1/2 way mark. You can move the netting up as needed.
The instructions that are included when you purchase the netting: Netting is applied before the flowers need support, best installed at planting time. Drive sturdy stakes in each corner of your bed; cut the netting the length of your bed plus 8″. Using a sturdy garden stake the width of your bed, weave it thru one end of the netting and slip over stakes at one end. Pulling the netting fairly taut weave a stake thru the other end and slip over the other end corner stakes. Add additional side stakes for every 8-10′ of bed. Keeping the netting taut in all directions will prevent birds from becoming entangled.
Sit back during rain and wind; your flowers will be standing tall!
When harvesting flowers sometimes you do have to reach below the netting and this takes a little practice. But of course, if they were not netted there would be no flowers to cut. At the end of the season, we just cut all the flowers at the netting level, remove the netting, and roll them up for next year’s use.