I have been asked, “You mention using 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 I did not use it regularly 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 money were gone in minutes. From then on I have become a faithful user of support netting.
We normally apply the netting right when 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’ 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 halfway mark. You can move the netting up the stakes as needed.
Regarding stakes, we use hardwood stakes sourced from a local lumber yard, they last us several years if stored indoors over winter. Metal T-posts sold for fencing also work for this purpose, they are available at most hardware stores.
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 through one end of the netting, and slip over stakes at one end. Pulling the netting fairly taut, weave a stake through 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.
Then 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 to store for next year’s use.
To purchase and watch videos on support netting click here.
Lisa Mason Ziegler, award-winning author of Vegetables Love Flowers and Cool Flowers, owner of The Gardener’s Workshop, Flower Farming School Online, and the publisher of Farmer-Florist School Online and Florist School Online. Watch Lisa’s Story and connect with Lisa on social media!