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The Usefulness of Tomato Trellis

tomato trellis inside a hoop house

If you're new to growing tomatoes and not sure how to set up your plants, a trellis might seem like a complex and unnecessary system. Given that a trellis takes much more effort than merely letting your tomatoes grow into a thicket, why bother constructing a trellis?

The answer is that trellises make planting and harvesting your tomatoes much more comfortable. They're also very durable, which means they can support your plants for years! Overall, a tomato trellis is one of the most useful things you can build to help your plants.

First, this article will discuss what a tomato trellis is. Because there are a few basic types of trellises, you'll need to determine which one works best for you. Then, we'll discuss why a trellis is so useful for your garden. Read ahead to find out everything you need to know!

What is Tomato Trellis?

tomato trellis in garden

Image source: Flickr

In its most basic form, a trellis is any structure that you build to support tomato vines as they grow. The external structure allows the plants to grow upward rather than outward. The vertical vines are much more organized than ground-level tomato thickets; it's also a lot easier to harvest tomatoes from a trellis than from the ground.

Some people build their trellises, often consisting of just string and a pole. You can wrap the string around the vine and attach it to the mast to pull the vines upward. More complex trellises are built from wood or metal and provide ample surface space for tomatoes to grow on.

Many trellises look like vertical grates, organized in a grid pattern up. Other trellises fan out or incorporate smooth, flowing lines for a more elegant appearance. Some large trellises are shaped like a gazebo. They allow you to rest in the shade underneath the plants!

Do My Tomatoes Need a Trellis?

If you're considering a trellis, you should know that not all tomatoes will grow with a trellis. Certain types of tomato plants prefer to grow at ground level. 

There are "indeterminate" and "determinate" types of tomatoes. People often refer to indeterminate tomatoes as "vine tomatoes." Determinate ones are also named bush tomatoes. 

Indeterminate tomatoes grow for a more extended season each year and produce their fruit around the calendar. These plants grow much more abundant, meaning that they can often use trellises for added support.

Determinate (bush) tomatoes, on the other hand, have a much shorter growing and fruiting season. Because they don't take so much time to grow, they don't expand above ground level. Trellises are unnecessary if you're only dealing with bush tomatoes.

​​How Trellises are Useful

As we mentioned above, tomato trellises are some of the most useful projects you can apply to your garden. They offer a variety of benefits to keep your tomato plants healthy and growing properly. Let's break down some of the specific reasons why a tomato trellis is such a good idea for your garden.

Plant More Tomatoes

group of tomato plants

Image source: Pixabay

If you have a limited amount of space in your garden, a tomato trellis is a great way to maximize the number of plants you can grow. On the ground, tomatoes have limited space -- they may crowd each other out, or they may struggle to get enough sunlight and water. 

A trellis opens up an extra new dimension for your plants to grow. The unique vertical space means that you can capitalize and grow more tomato plants in the same amount of ground space. And while one trellis may open up a lot of new growing surface, you can take things even further. Plant multiple trellises to maximize your growth potential.

Though a trellis may take some work to build and install on the front end, it will pay off when you can grow and harvest more tomatoes throughout the year. If you're strapped for space but wish you could produce more vegetables, a trellis is a quick and easy way to solve the problem. 

Healthier Tomatoes

picked tomatoes from Tomato Trellis

On the ground, tomato plants are fighting for space and frequently grow into a dense thicket. Not only does this sort of bush make it challenging to harvest your tomatoes, but it also forces some of the plants out of the sunlight. 

Building a trellis ensures that each one of your plants gets plenty of sunlight and fresh air as they grow. Because tomato vines aren't as dense when they grow vertically, they won't create the same sort of competition that you find in tomato bunches on the ground. 

And with improved access to natural resources like air, light, and water, your tomatoes will most likely grow more prominent and juicier as well. A trellis is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to improve the quality of your fresh vegetables without changing anything else about your plants. 

Cleaner Plants

green tomatoes

Image source: Unsplash

If you grow tomatoes in your garden, the chances are that your plants are dirty. It's easy for your tomatoes to pick up dust, mud, and other messes when they lie so close to the ground. When it comes time to harvest, the plants often look less than appealing.

A trellis is a quick and easy solution to your problems with messes. Though it's not perfect -- the plants can still pick up some dirt through the air -- a trellis moves your plants out of the dust and into a much cleaner environment. 

If you live in a particularly dusty climate, you can always protect your trellis with a net or other shield. Spraying the plants with a bit of water will quickly get rid of any built-up grime. If you grow tomatoes on the ground, spraying too much water into the plants will only turn your garden into a mud slick!

Wind Resistant

wind mill spinning because of wind

A tomato trellis can solve any problems you have with wind near your plants. In areas with particularly strong winds, the gusts can topple or even uproot your plants from the ground. Many trellises are sturdy enough to resist high winds without falling over.

Because you tie your vines to the trellis, it also decreases the chance that the wind will catch one of your plants and pull the trellis. In some ways, tying the plants to the trellis is a more stable solution than leaving them to fend for themselves on the ground. There's less freedom for the plants to smack into other objects.

If you want to make your trellis as secure as possible, you can mount it to a wall of your house or shed. This way, the plants will be even more secure than on a free-standing trellis. 

Easier to Harvest

person holding red and orange tomatoes

Image source: Unsplash

Any gardener who's planted tomatoes knows how difficult it can be to reach into a thicket and grab all of the vegetables at harvest time. It's annoying, time-consuming, and can be painful for your back. A trellis makes it much easier to instantly identify and pick all of your ripe tomatoes, saving you time and effort. 

Installing a trellis may also help you increase your yield by making sure that you find every tomato. Particularly dense tomato thickets may hide ripe plants when you go to pick them. Weeks later, the overripe tomatoes can rot and become havens for dirt, bugs, and other critters. 

On a trellis, it's easy to see which tomatoes are ready to harvest. You won't miss any ripe tomatoes in a patch of obscured plants. 

Prevent Pest Damage

A pest on a fruit

Image source: Unsplash

Finally, trellises are one of the best defenses you can install against pest damage in your garden. The vast majority of critters that attack tomato plants come from the soil and the ground. With tomato bushes where the fruit hangs low, it's easy for bugs to attack and destroy many of your matured plants. By the time you come to harvest them, the tomatoes will already be half-eaten and festering.

A trellis makes it much more difficult for undesirable pests to reach your tomatoes. The higher up your plants are on the trellis, the better. Even relatively short trellises discourage many ground-based bugs from climbing up to access the plants.

If you're looking to eliminate all of the flying pests as well, you can hang your trellis with a net. The net prevents flies and other airborne bugs from landing on your tomatoes. This net is a simple and cheap modification that may pay huge dividends for your garden. Depending on your previous garden setup, you may even be able to re-use a net from your ground-based tomato bushes!

​​​​Summary

A tomato trellis is one of the best modifications you can make to any garden with tomato plants. It's cheap, cost-effective, and can greatly increase both the number and quality of your tomato plants. There are many different sizes of trellises, all best suited to a different type of garden -- take your time and look for an option that's right for you!

Featured Image: Flickr

A Process on How to Remove Rust from Tools

rustic pliers

Rust is one of the top causes of metal damage. It’s hard to notice at first, but it can destroy entire sheds if you neglect to take care of your tools. Thankfully, there are ways you can remove rust from your devices. Rather than throwing them out, you can extend their lifespan and save some money with just a little bit of effort.

This guide explains how to remove rust from tools that have oxidized and corroded thanks to exposure or plain old neglect. If you don’t have the money to buy new appliances or don’t want to throw your old versions out, removing the rust is a great alternative solution.

First, we’ll discuss how rust can sprout up on your tools and explain the damage rust can do to them. Then, we’ll walk you through the process to remove rust from your appliances that have already oxidized. These tactics will help you fix your problems and prevent the rust from reappearing. Read ahead to find out everything you need to know!

How Does Rust Get Onto Tools?

Rusty  Tools

Image source: Unsplash

Rust forms on tools exposed to moisture in the air. While many different materials (including most metals) rust, the process is particularly typical for alloys. Because many manufacturers use alloys to construct metal tools, rust is a unique problem for weapons and other instruments.

Whether you have tools for working around the house, in your farm or garden, or for more precise mechanical work, you’ll need to learn how to protect them from rust. In this area, a little bit of prevention can be far more effective than removing the damage after the tool has already rusted.

If you have tools that aren’t rusty, it’s much easier to keep them stored to prevent any rust from forming. A bit of extra thoughtfulness and care can save you a lot of time, hassle, and money on the back end. Don’t neglect to care for your tools until they’re rusted, or you’ll pay the price!

Damaging Effects of Rust

Rust from Tools

Image source: Unsplash

If left unchecked, rust can stop you from using your tools. In severe cases, rust may even render your instruments entirely unusable. To effectively remove rust, it’s essential to know its effects and how it damages your tools.

Often the first time you’ll notice rust on your tools is when you try to use them. Light rust, though it may not be instantly visible, can make smooth joints rough.

Devices with multiple pieces that glide across each other, like shears, are particularly susceptible. If you have trouble operating shears or other tools, rust may be the culprit.

In more severe cases, rust can dull blades. Rusty knives, clippers, and scissors will undoubtedly have a hard time cutting anything. Because the rust breaks down the metal alloys used in your tools, you’ll often need to sharpen tools after removing the rust from them.

If you leave tools to rust for a more extended period, the rust might corrode through the metal entirely. Unfortunately, these tools are pretty much impossible to repair. Even if you remove all of the rust, the corrosion compromises their structural integrity. The only way to stop rust from ruining your tools is to be diligent and pay attention to any oxidation before it reaches this point. 

How to Prevent Your Tools from Rusting

While removing rust is an important skill to learn, it’s far easier to keep your tools clean if you don’t allow them to rust at all. With just a couple of simple steps, you can make sure that your devices remain free from rust -- without needing to perform any annoying cleanup operations.

Your first step should always be to store your tools in a dry, cool place. Metal will oxidize more quickly if you expose it to high heat and humidity. Never leave your gadgets outside or exposed to the elements -- even a little bit of rain or dew can destroy them!

If you leave your tools in a shed, make sure that the humidity inside it stays within control. Desiccants, like silica gel packets found in many foods and other products, are an easy way to remove moisture from the air around your tools. Slip a desiccant packet into the box where you store your tools as a preventative measure.

Anti-rust coatings will also work to prevent rust from getting into your tools. Butcher’s wax is a quick and easy option. Just coat any exposed metal surfaces with the wax to prevent them from rusting. You can also use a vapor corrosion inhibitor or VCI. These coatings bond to your metal tools and seal out moisture to prevent the devices from rusting.

How to Remove Rust from Tools

Unfortunately, prevention isn’t always possible. If rust has already built up on some of your tools, you’ll need a strategy to remove it. Thankfully, there are plenty of different ways to get the rust off of your devices. Depending on the severity of the corrosion, one method may work better for you than others. Evaluate all of these options to determine which one is best for you!

Lime Juice and Salt

salt for Removing Rust from Tools

Image source: Freepik

This method is one of the simplest ways to get rust buildup off of your tools. As a bonus, it’s also all-natural! There’s no need to use chemicals or additives with this strategy. 

Just mix a lot of salt and lime juice in a closed container to form a paste. If you have it on hand, you can use lemon juice as well -- the difference is negligible. Once you have the mixture combined, place some of it on a steel wool pad or a specific scouring pad. 

The two materials in this scrub work together to eliminate grime and rust. The acid in the lemon or lime juice breaks down the rust buildup, while the salt adds an extra bit of grit. The abrasive nature helps you scrub off the damage. You’ll need to use a bit of excess elbow grease with this method, but it will pay off in the end!

If you’re working with extremely damaged tools, let the mixture sit on the tools for a couple of moments before you scrub it off. You could even coat the metal in the salt-juice combination to give it an extra kick. 

Once you’ve eliminated all of the rust, you’ll need to clean, lubricate and polish your tool to prevent it from becoming rusty again. Use a clean rag to wipe off any residue. Then, you can find polish to get your device looking nice and shiny! To lower the chances of it rusting once again, you could apply a VCI or coat the tool in butcher’s wax.

Vinegar

salt and vinegar salt for Removing Rust from Tools

Image source: Pixabay

If you need to get the rust off of your tools but don’t want to go through all of the hard scrubbing work that the method above requires, you can also use white vinegar. This method doesn’t require nearly as much effort -- you merely soak your tool and then scrub all of the rust right off at the end!

To apply this method, fill a large jar or bowl with white vinegar. Drop your tools in and let them soak for a day or more. While this takes more time than other methods, the vinegar needs some extra time to react with and remove the rust from your tools.

After 24 hours, you can pull the tools out of the vinegar and scour them to get rid of any persistent leftover rust. Make sure that you use a pad suitable for heavy-duty scrubbing. Give it all of the elbow grease you can here to make sure that your tool is immaculate.

Finally, you dry and polish your tool. Once again, it’s a good idea to coat it with a protective material to prevent it from rusting over in the future.

Sand and Scrub

sandpaper and white gloves at the top of plywood

Image source: Flickr

To get the rust off of your tools as fast as possible, go to work with sandpaper and scrubbing pads. Start by getting rid of easy-to-remove surface rust with an abrasive pad. 

Then, apply a small amount of paint thinner (also known as mineral spirits) to the metal surface of your tools. The thinner will eat away at built-up grime. Just be careful not to damage your devices! If you need to repeat the steps, keep doing so until the tool is spotless.

Afterward, keep scrubbing until all of the rust is gone. Then, dry and polish your tools. Coat them with butcher’s wax or apply a VCI for protection in the future. 

Summary

While it takes a bit of extra effort to remove rust from your tools, it’s still possible to rescue any old items you may have around your house. Rather than throw them out, give those tools a new lease on life!

Going forward, remember that it’s far easier to protect your tools from rust than it is to clean them once they’ve rusted over. Take a bit of time to safeguard your metal tools against rust -- you won’t regret it.

Featured Image: Flickr

The Flexibility And Multiple Usage Of Silage Tarps

man taking picture of lettuce

Running a farm can be a complex operation requiring lots of expensive and hard-to-maintain equipment. However, there is one item that is affordable, cost-effective, and has many different uses: the silage tarp. We’re going to discuss the various applications of silage tarps, how effective they are, and where you can purchase them. Let’s get started.  

greenhouse icon

What Are Silage Tarps?

Silage tarps are large sheets of opaque polyethylene plastic with UV protection. They come in black and green colors and various sizes. Some are small, measuring 30 feet by 40 feet. Others are much larger, measuring 30 or 50 feet by 100 feet. 

Image via Flaticon

How Are Silage Tarps Used?

Traditionally, farmers use them to protect hay or manure piles. 

But recently, farmers are discovering that they are useful for many different applications such as extending seasons, suppressing weeds, assisting with specialty crop production, incorporating of crop residue, reducing water consumption needed for irrigation, and less need for tillage. 

Let’s discuss each of these applications in a little more detail so that you can make an educated decision about buying and using this type of tarp for your farm or garden. 

Extending the Seasons

Suppressing And Controlling Weeds

Using Occultation For Soil Preparation

Producing Special Crops

Incorporating Crop Residues

Reducing Water Needs For Irrigation

Reducing Tillage

The Downsides Of Using Silage Tarps

strawberry field with silage tarp

Image source: Freepik

After reading all of the different benefits of using silage tarps, you probably can’t wait to start using them. But before you run out and buy a bunch, there are some drawbacks you need to consider. 

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Their Weight And Size

As you might have guessed, these tarps are extremely heavy. One person can move smaller ones that measure 30 feet by 40 feet. 

Medium-sized tarps measuring at 30 feet by 100 feet require more than one person or a tractor to move. And the biggest ones measuring 30 feet by 300 feet need heavy equipment to move them around. 

For stretching them out on a field, you’ll need at least three people for the medium rolls and possibly more for the larger ones. 

Icon via Flaticon

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The Size Of Your Farm

If you run a large-scale farm, it might be hard to source or manage enough tarps to make it a worthwhile endeavor. And small farms may not have the workforce needed for managing multiple larger tarps. 

Icon via Flaticon

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Weather Considerations

Do you have a farm where the wind is an issue? Despite the weight of the tarps, wind can still pick them up and move them. The movement of the tarps can damage your crops. 

Be sure to use sandbags to keep the wind from moving the tarps and ruining your crops. If you don’t have sandbags, use old tires to weigh down the tarps. 

And if you live in an area with a lot of precipitation, keep in mind that the rain will run off the tarps. It has to go somewhere, so be sure to check other areas for increased erosion. 

If you put tarps over raised beds, you may need to pump the water out of the aisles in between the raised beds. Or, if you can wait, you can let it evaporate.

Icon via Flaticon

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Pests

Slugs and voles love living under tarps, so if you want to discourage them from setting up house, try pulling up the tarps for a week or two. The weeds won’t have much of a chance to grow, and natural predators such as snakes and coyotes get an opportunity to get their meals in. 

Icon via Flaticon

Sourcing And Delivery Of Tarps

man taking out lettuce

Image via Freepik

Before you run out and buy a bunch of brand new tarps from your feed store, you should check out used tarps for sale in your area. 

Also, keep in mind that the people who first used the tarps didn’t consider how the next owners would use them after they no longer needed the tarps. Don’t be surprised if the tarps have small holes and frays. And the previous owners might have rolled them or folded them in odd ways. 

Sometimes, used tarps have a pungent smell to them from the fermentation of any grain or plant material that may have lodged itself in the tarp. The odor might attract rodents, so be sure to hose them down if they smell. 

Depending on the size of your order, receiving them can be quite an ordeal. You’ll have to have a plan to get the tarps off the delivery vehicle including equipment such as tractors with bucket forks, sturdy ropes, and plenty of people. It can take hours, even with the best-laid plans. 

Words Of Wisdom For Farmers

woman holding basket

Image via Freepik

As with any new venture, it’s a good idea to understand what you’re trying to achieve by using silage tarps. 

Lay Out Your Goals

You should know your goals and ask yourself why you want to use tarps. Do you want to keep your beds dry? Is weed control your main goal? Sometimes your goals can conflict with one another, so be sure to understand your priorities to determine when to put down tarps and remove them. 

Understand That Timing Is Everything

You will want to time putting down your tarps and removing them well. Consider all of the variables, including the time it will take, how much labor you have on hand, weather, and equipment.

Applications For Amateur Gardeners

While silage tarps are generally used most by farmers, gardeners have discovered how useful they are for improving the quality of their soil for all of the same reasons mentioned previously.

You might also enjoy the weed control provided by silage tarps. You won’t need to dread kneeling in your garden for hours on end pulling weeds! You’ll also be able to reduce the amount of weed killer you use, perhaps foregoing it altogether. 

The only difference is that you won’t have to worry as much about needing a big labor force to place and move your tarps, and you can get away with only buying one or two small tarps, depending on the size of your garden. 

Conclusion

In this guide, we covered what silage tarps are and their many benefits to farmers and gardeners alike. We also discussed some things to take into consideration before purchasing and using these tarps, such as your environment, the amount of labor required, and what to expect when buying used tarps as a cost-saving measure. 

We hope that you’ll use this guide to determine if silage tarps are right for you and your needs. 

Building A Hoop Greenhouse: A Helpful Guide

hoop greenhouse

Hoop greenhouses are one of the most cost-effective ways for beginners and pros alike to construct a greenhouse. When built properly, this tool can transform your soil into a much more potent base for new plants. 

To beginners, a hoop house may seem like a large investment of both time and money. Thankfully, that’s not quite the case. Hoop houses are one of the easiest and cheapest types of greenhouses you can build. Because they take so few materials, it’s even possible for you to build a hoop house completely on your own!

This guide discusses all of the information you need to know to build a successful hoop greenhouse. First, we’ll talk about the basic components of a hoop house. Then, we’ll mention some of the advantages of constructing a hoop house. Finally, we’ll explain how to build your very own version. Read ahead to find out everything you need to know!

What Is A Hoop House?

plants

Image source: Unsplash

Though it might look like any other greenhouse to the untrained eye, a hoop house is its own type of greenhouse structure. In their most basic form, hoop houses utilize PVC pipe and plastic sheeting to shield plants. 

Farmers usually construct hoop houses with a wooden frame on the ground. The solid wood adds stability and keeps the PVC grounded even as it arches above your plants. As long as you have a solid foundation, the rest of the hoop house is up to you -- depending on their preferences and the materials available, gardeners usually build their hoop house to suit their specific needs.

Gardeners and farmers construct hoop houses to protect their plants from snow and frost. When built properly, a hoop house will also insulate the heat and can protect plants from wind or rain. As we’ll discuss in the next section, hoop houses offer a wide variety of improvements for your crops without a lot of time or investment on your part. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Hoop House?

Hoop houses provide a multitude of benefits. Whether you’re a professional farmer or like to garden as a hobby, it’s easy to improve the quantity and quality of your plants with a hoop house.

First off, the warmer temperatures make a hoop house comfortable and help your plants grow more quickly. Because a hoop house insulates heat, it’s often more humid inside as well. This heat can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on your goals. More often than not, though, the humidity boost is conducive to plant growth.

Beyond just increasing the speed at which your plants grow, hoop houses can also stimulate them to grow larger. Without cold or frost, and free from nagging pests, plants can grow taller and wider. Not only will a hoop house expand your harvest to all seasons of the year, but it can also improve the size and quality of your crops when you do harvest them. 

hoop greenhouse vector

If you like to grow a lot of delicate plants, you should consider building a hoop house around them for added protection against the elements. If left unchecked, you may lose a large portion of your harvest to wind, snow, and rain. A hoop house can protect against all of these afflictions. 

Because it’s so easy to construct, users often build a hoop house as an added precaution to keep all of their crops away from harsh weather cycles.

Image via Freepik

Sturdy hoop houses can protect your crops against birds and other pests that attack the plants as they grow. The surface covering and PVC hoops offer an extra layer of shielding between your crops and bugs, pests, and other animals. In this regard, a hoop house is more permanent and more effective than alternative techniques like draping netting over anything you grow.

Because many diseases are borne through moisture and rainfall, insulating your plants from the rain in a hoop house can make them healthier and protect them from infirmities. You’ll still need to be vigilant about other ailments, of course! However, installing a hoop house in your garden can be a great first layer of protection.

man inside hoop greenhouse

Image via Pexels

In some circumstances, a well-built hoop house may even open up different farming possibilities for you. Plants and crops that ordinarily might not grow in your location will grow in the hotter, more humid environment of a hoop house. Likewise, plants that struggle to defend against pests or birds outside of the hoop house may flourish with the extra protection.

Hoop houses are far easier to construct and are more cost-effective for smaller patches of land. While greenhouses are costly and take up a lot of space, you can build a hoop house on your own for dirt-cheap prices. 

How To Build A Hoop Greenhouse

If you’re building a new hoop house, you may be confused about where to start and how to assemble the structure. Thankfully, we have some advice to help you as you build. Follow these tips for a smooth and easy construction process.

Necessary Materials

assorted type carpentry tools on brown surface

Image source: Unsplash


Before you can begin building, you’ll need to have all of the proper materials on hand. These items are some of the critical elements any hoop house will require. You may need to buy more or less of each item depending on the size and shape of your hoop house. However, these are the materials you should keep in mind as you begin the construction process. 

The first, and possibly most important, component of any hoop house is lumber. You’ll use this for the frame, so it’s important to get durable, high-quality pieces of wood! Dirt-cheap or flimsy pieces may crack, break, or disintegrate over time.

If left unattended, these problems could bring down your hoop house entirely. Take an extra few minutes to evaluate your options before you purchase; it will save you time and hassle on the back end. 

You should also look for rot-resistant wood before you buy. Because you fix this wood in the soil, it’s more susceptible to bugs and rot than other applications. Purchasing wood with some extra rot resistance will lengthen the lifespan of your hoop house and lower your maintenance costs over that time. 

Though the exact size will depend on the area, you want to enclose; many gardeners build their hoop houses using 2x4 planks or larger 4x6 pieces. Standing the pieces on their narrow side creates a raised soil bed and can keep ground-level critters away from your crops.

woman gardening inside greenhouse

Image via Freepik

Once you’ve got the necessary wood, you’ll need to find PVC pipe. As long as the pipes are long enough to curve and stretch across the length of your hoop house, the exact size and shape are up to you. However, if you want a tall hoop house that you can walk through, you should buy longer pipes. When curved, these will rise taller and give you extra space underneath. 

Make sure to purchase enough pipes to support the next item: greenhouse plastic sheeting. While it may be tempting to purchase cheaper lengths of plastic from any old store here, make sure that you buy high-quality materials now. They’ll offer UV protection to keep your crops growing well, and they’ll outlast the budget options over the long run. 

Constructing Your Hoop House

flowers

Image source: Freepik


To build your hoop house, start by driving the wooden foundation into the ground. Attach the planks with wood nails at the corners and make sure that the frame holds steady. After all, you’ll need this to support the rest of your structure.

For smaller hoop houses, you may be able to mount brackets along the side of each wood plank and curve your PVC pipes through those. If you use this method, make sure to attach the pipes to the ground with a bit of rebar at the tips. The rebar will keep your hoop house stable in all conditions.

Larger hoop houses will require you to drive ground pipes around the base. These are longer PVC pipes that you drive into the ground vertically to support the hoops. Do this at every corner of the house and every couple of feet for the length of the planks. While it may take more work now, it will lead to a stronger structure in the end!

Once you have the hoops up, you can drape the plastic sheeting over the PVC. Align the plastic where you want it, then secure it. You can attach it to pieces of wood along the base, or use wire to secure it around the hoops. For added security and protection, you could also use a double layer of plastic sheeting. “Inflating” the sheets, or blowing air between them, is another common strategy.

Summary

glass plant shed

Image source: Unsplash

Those are all the steps you need to assemble your very own hoop house. Though it may seem like a daunting task at first, in reality, the process is simple and painless. Install a hoop house in your garden today to take advantage of all of its benefits!

Featured Image: Unsplash

Why Garden Pests and Vertical Gardens Don’t Mix

garden pests

It's nearly harvest time, which means many gardeners are dealing with garden pests. These animals and bugs come out of the woodwork to take advantage of your hard work and eat your fruits and vegetables. Leaving behind droppings in many different forms, from rat droppings to sticky honeydew. These pests do nothing to help you or your garden flourish.

Garden pests are much easier to find when you're working with a vertical garden, but when you see bugs invading your plants, sometimes just killing them won't stop them. It's important to be able to differentiate hurtful garden pests and helpful garden bugs. You should also know just how to handle a pest problem for your garden, in case a rat or some bugs decide to feast on your harvest. What exactly constitutes a garden pest though?

What Are Garden Pests?

praying mantis

Image Source: Pixabay

Garden pests are usually bugs that come into your garden, and start to eat your plants. They are nuisances in their own ways and can cause a plants death depending on how many there are and how often they eat. They can be incredibly destructive, ruining everything you have strived to grow. They'll eat flowers, leaves, and suffocate your plants killing any potential harvest you planned on having.

There are a wide variety of pests that can attack your garden, from the roots to the flowers each plant could be in danger. Thankfully though not all pests are bad, there are some that help your garden. Knowing the difference can help you encourage healthy growth in your plants, and even keep out the pests that are prepared to harm.


Pests That Don’t Hurt Your Garden

There are a wide variety of pests that don't actually hurt your garden. Some even help keep the pests that do hurt your plants at bay. Some people for example greatly dislike bees due to their nasty sting, but bees are essential pollinators that your garden needs. If you don't have bees than you likely won't have crops. Even more types of bugs can help your garden, even though many of them are thought to be traditional garden pests. Take a look at your vertical garden, to see if any of these good guys are lending a hand.

Wasps and hornets

Another stinging bug and this one doesn't even pollinate! Wasps and hornets though aren't bad pests. They feast upon other insects which are often common garden pests, including aphid larvae which is some of their favorite. They may have a nasty sting, but they aren't actually outright aggressive as many people believe. Much like a bee, if you leave them alone, they're going to leave you alone. All while dealing away with some of the pests plaguing your garden.

Wasps and hornets

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Ladybugs

These little beauties are sometimes thought to be garden pests because they are bugs. Many people think all bugs eat plants, but the ladybug targets a meal higher in protein. Mites and aphids, in both their adult and larval form, are delicious to a ladybug, along with other pests. Mits and aphids can wreak havoc on an unprotected garden, but the ladybugs gorge themselves on them, protecting and defending your garden.

lady bugs

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Soldier beetle

Soldier beetles are another garden helper that looks like one of our garden pests.These delightful beetles look like beetles that may eat your plants. Instead, they feed on caterpillars, aphids, and so much more. Targeting caterpillars is great, as they've caused myself more that one season of strife and soldier beetles are the only reason I had any crops at all. Soldier beetles are in fact your garden's little helpers, and not garden pests.

Soldier beetle

Image Source: Pexels

Praying Mantis

This little bug is hard to see, but when they're in your garden, you should be happy. They aren't only interesting but are incredibly helpful. A praying mantis eats all kinds of terrible garden pests, allowing you to rest easy. Even the baby nymphs are predatory hunters, the size of a small ant, and they don't hesitate to attack the garden pests such as aphids and leafhoppers that would otherwise ravage your garden. These little creatures are beautiful and graceful and can bring all kinds of delight to your flourishing garden. Including a lack of terrible pests. But what types of pests hurt your garden?

praying mantis

Image Source: Pixabay


Pests That Are Harmful to Your Garden

With the good comes the bad, and these garden pests couldn't be worse. Not all pests are bugs, animals, such as rabbits, rats, and deer can be a problem if you live in a rural area. If you're working with a vertical garden, there's a good chance are you're in a more urban setting. In that case, you're likely looking at quite a few bugs that could cause you some serious problems. The rats though tend to stick around no matter where you are. What kind of bugs could ruin your garden though?

Aphids

With thousands of species throughout the world, these little buggers eat the sap right out of the plant. Having a few around isn't a death sentence, but when the numbers grow you have problems. Your plant will wilt, and its leaves will curl, growth will stop, and your harvest won't happen on time if at all. This garden bug in mass could kill an entire garden easily. After the aphids eat, they secrete honeydew, promoting mold growth and attracting ants. These bugs won't even have eggs; they birth live young ready to eat your harvest.

green aphids

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Corn earworm

All throughout North America, this worm looks like a caterpillar, but it's actually an earworm. It bores into fruits and vegetables and is commonly known to attack corn. After hibernating in the soil, it emerges after winter and deposits their eggs on corn silks and other plants. Each female lays about 3,000 eggs, which can all turn into more worms. In a manner of a month, you can go from having lush plants to no plants at all, just because of an onslaught of these little worms.

corn

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Earwig

This little bug normally works at your plants in the night. They love corn silks and hide in small holes in or between foliage and flowers. They're slender and reddish brown, with pincers on the end. They infest fruits and attack seedlings. They can travel quite far as well, hitching rides in fruit shipments. You may have seen some of these little guys inside your house, but they're there by accident, and won't repopulate until they can get back outside, where they can get solid food.

earwig

Image Source: Pixabay

Rats

Nobody likes rats, especially not in your garden. They get attracted to the garden because you're literally growing food. Keeping an eye out for rat scat and ensuring that you have secured your space will keep them out. There is always an option with rats, but a female rat can repopulate so quickly you'll need to act fast. You can discourage them by blocking their access, for example, I have a wire mesh on the only opening to my vertical garden. The mesh is much smaller than a rats head, keeping them from getting into my sunroom. If you don't take some kind of action though, you will end up with a bunch of rats, no plants, and nothing to show for your work.

rats

Image Source: Pixabay

Creepy Crawly Garden Pests and Bugs

Most creepy and crawly bugs you only think you don't want in your garden. From spiders to the praying mantis most bugs in this category are great for your garden. You do have to be aware though of exactly what's there. For example, a caterpillar is a creepy crawly bug, and most caterpillars will eat your plants. Make sure you have great soil, native plants, and diversity in your garden to attract positive pests like the honey bee. Also be sure to provide water for the good bugs that will eat your garden pests; otherwise they'll have to stray from your garden to drink, and may not return. How do you tell when bugs are even in your garden though?

How to Tell If Bugs Are in Your Garden

Your vertical garden is small, so unlike larger plots of land spotting bugs is pretty easy. You should check leaves and stems for anything that appears different from before. For example, aphids have that sticky honeydew they secrete. Rats have their poop, and earwigs are easy to find in flowers and stems if you look for holes.

Each pest is easy enough to find, and a lot of them don't even try to hide. You should see your plants on an almost daily basis, to check them for bugs. Its usually clear when there's a problem, new bugs will physically be on your plants or the plant will be reacting negatively in some way. One surefire sign you have a problem is if there's physically holes in your leaves. How do you deal with pests in the first place though?

How to Avoid Pests

There are ways to attract the good bugs and pests and to deter the ones that will kill your crops. If you can avoid pests in the first place, you won't have to juggle trying to handle the damage a garden pest could do. There are a few different approaches to keeping the bad garden pests out of your space. Initially, there are treatments with different pesticides and chemicals, or you can use organic methods. Both methods are efficient, and can keep the pests away from your garden without too much of a problem, but which one is right for you and your vertical garden.

Control and treat with pesticides

Pesticides are usually a chemical concoction which is tested and designed to kill or deter pests in your garden. It's a broad term that can include weed killers, fungal killers, rodent killers, and growth regulators. It's a good idea to double check and be sure that you're dealing with a pest before you decide to use a pesticide. Check your plants and go from there. Always be sure its a pest causing the problem and not an issue like poor drainage or physical damage of another kind.

After you've chosen a pesticide, there will be instructions on how to use it safely on the container. Do not use it in any other way than intended, pesticides carry chemicals, which can react with other chemicals when exposed to them. You'll need to be sure the pesticide you choose is right for your garden pests and has the most minimal effect against people. Always read the label and follow instructions if this is the route you want to take.

Control and treatment with organic methods

More organic methods include planting some deterrent plants. Plants like catnip, thyme, basil, and coriander are plants that pests don't favor. They repel insects, which are the majority of the pests you'll encounter in your vertical garden. These methods don't involve chemicals, and though there isn't any scientific strength behind issues with using chemicals to keep pests off our food, it still makes plenty of people nervous. Those who choose to use pesticides could risk putting those pesticides in their body.

Another organic method you can use to deter pests is insect killing soaps and oils. These methods are totally organic, and completely safe for the plant, but are deadly to a variety of garden pests. Along with attracting beneficial insects and building barriers for your seedlings you can keep out most problem causing creatures in one way or another.

Taking the Pests out for a Better Garden

From the creepy crawlies to rats in your neighborhood pests come in all shapes and sizes. Thankfully not all bugs are out to harm your vertical garden. With a smaller garden like yours, you'll be able to spot inbound pests faster than someone working on a plot of land, which allows you to tackle the problem faster, and handle the pests properly, without losing your plants.

With organic and non-organic methods you can protect your garden, your way, and still have a plentiful harvest in the end. Just be sure you don't end up driving out all the good bugs that help you keep a lid on things. Did you experience a pest problem on your vertical garden? Tell us what you did in the comments to get rid of your garden pests.

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