How to Use Shade Cloth Successfully?

Stephanie C

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I was thinking of putting a shade cloth over my vegetable garden, as it’s been SO hot and sunny here (Texas), and my plants aren’t doing too well. I have a whole bed of raspberries that are trying to fruit, but the berries that develop are few and small and sad-looking. The plants look hot and withered during the mid part of the day. Even my sweet potato and oregano leaves are wilting in this heat.

Will shade cloth help my garden? If so, how can I use it effectively? I don’t want to block so much sunlight that the plants can’t produce. I see that there are different kinds that seem to let varying amounts of light through. How do I know what I need for my climate?
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Shadecloth can be a great help! I haven't needed to use it yet myself as my plants tend to live through any beating they get, so long as I keep up with their watering.
By the sound of it you want to block out the harsh mid-day sun. You can try to figure out at which angles the sun's at and put the shadecloth in a location where it blocks some of the mid-day sun, but not the morning and evening one. A friend of mine has (unintentionally) done it that way and her tomato crops are thriving.
Many plants do great in part-sun and the morning and evening sun is much less harsh on them.

As for knowing what is "right" can be a trial and error. But to decrease the gap from "all or nothing" I'd recommend you check this out;
 

Cathy

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I put up temporary white shade cloth that blocks out I think 45% of uv light... it is on the westerly side of the crop to protect from the hottest part of the day.... I really just wanted to reduce the heat not the sun if that makes sense....

This year I also made a huge decision to research my growing area more and plant less crops in summer as not a lot can stand the heat.

No tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce.... none of those like my heat and tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini all have high fruit fly risk in summer.
 

Stephanie C

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What are you growing in the summer where you are, Cathy?
 

Clara

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T
I was thinking of putting a shade cloth over my vegetable garden, as it’s been SO hot and sunny here (Texas), and my plants aren’t doing too well. I have a whole bed of raspberries that are trying to fruit, but the berries that develop are few and small and sad-looking. The plants look hot and withered during the mid part of the day. Even my sweet potato and oregano leaves are wilting in this heat.

Will shade cloth help my garden? If so, how can I use it effectively? I don’t want to block so much sunlight that the plants can’t produce. I see that there are different kinds that seem to let varying amounts of light through. How do I know what I need for my climate?
The main issues with raspberries is going to be the chill zone or lack of it. Unlike blackberries that will grow anywhere raspberries are pickier, they are a true temperate plant. I have no idea of your climate but I'm guessing its not very similar to a temperate climate. They will always struggle there unless you can give them something similar in terms of climate. I wonder do you have a cool part of the yard you can move them to? Somewhere they get only morning sun for around 6hrs then afternoon shade. Long term you will probably do better with the robust blackberry although even the wild ones in my subtropical zone look terrible while they are fruiting. It's just the way bramble fruits go in summer. They aren't used to the humidity and heat. Most of the ones here grow under forest canopies where they only get dappled light and grow and fruit very well.

Sweet potato is a wimp and will wilt regardless, unless it has stopped growing I wouldn't be too worried about it. It wilts here every summer too but still produces just fine.
 

Stephanie C

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That is good to know about the sweet potato!

I'm in north Texas, so according to the map I'm looking at, I'm in the northern bit of the subtropic zone, almost where it meets the very south edge of the temperate zone. Blackberries grow wild here and garden blackberries thrive with little to no care. The raspberries have done extremely well the last couple of years - I planted four, I think, in a raised bed and now they have filled the entire bed (there are probably 50 plants or more) and even started putting out shoots in the neighboring bed.

But this summer has been much hotter than usual. They always struggle a bit on the hottest days, but usually we only get maybe three or four hot days in a row (around 100-105F) and then temps drop back into the 90's again for a bit. This year has just been so intense. I think every single day since mid June, except maybe that one day we had a rainstorm, it's been hitting over 100F, with some days approaching 110F - which is just SO much more heat than usual. It started early and hasn't been letting up like it usually does. The raspberries in the southern half of the bed are shaded by a peach tree in the late afternoon and are doing better than the ones in the northern half, which don't get much shade at all. Most of the fruit that was developing in June just shriveled, which is such a shame. I'm hoping to get some berries in the fall if the poor plants survive the rest of the summer!
 
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