After our post on the importance of shading your tomatoes if you garden in places with extreme heat (raise your hands desert dwellers) we had some questions from gardeners on what type of shade works best and how to provide it.
So, we went out on the web and pulled off some photos of what we know works – in most cases things we have done ourselves, including this photo of basically a drape of shade cloth laid over the tomato plants and tied on with plastic clips or bread ties. This works, though it would be better if enough shade cloth is used to cover the sides (at least the west side) of the plant.
Amy has a raised bed garden with c-,clamps on the side that hold PVC piping. The PVC bends to fit into a c-clamp on the opposite side of the bed as shown in the photo. She also built a squared off PVC structure that will fit into the c-clamps. It provides more height for the plant. Here’s a lesson she learned: Avoid building the shade too high. Once, her six-foot high PVC frame with shade cloth attached became airborne in a storm and landed in the neighbor’s pool. She’s got it down to about four feet and has not lost it again.
One shade structure that struck us as interesting is this one on the left made from what looks like pallets. It’s an interesting way to reuse something that is easily attainable, and you could staple the burlap or shade cloth onto the wood and be all set. We get lots of deliveries on pallets and the one thing we’ve learned is to wear gloves when moving or working with them. They are full of staples.
The small bed to the right with a post on the side is nice, too. It looks as if the shade cloth can be toggled onto the post and stretched to posts on the opposite side of the bed.
These well built raised-bed boxes with beams and shade cloth belongs to Tracy C. here in the Phoenix area. She’s got a garden to behold and this set up is perfect. Tracy’s garden is spacious, but her beds and shade structure can be adapted to any space. If you have rivets sewn into your shade cloth, it could be pulled back when full sun is needed.
The most important thing to remember when shading tomatoes or anything else, use 50% shade cloth, Any more than 50% is too much coverage and the plant will stop growing. Burlap works well, too.