Sun Shade for Gardens

Asked April 3, 2013, 5:07 PM EDT

I want to know what shade cloth density is appropriate for our climate and for 10' over a raised bed vegetable garden in Bedias area.
Thank you,
Audie

Grimes County Texas

1 Response

I generally do not recommend shade cloth OVER a vegetable garden but it depends on the types of vegetable that you grow.
Here are my reason, plants need sunlight to do well.i.e Tomatoes typically need 8-10 exposure for production. But in Texas, our challenge is heat. Shade cloth may cut down on heat, but the canopy may still trap moisture. Increased humidity, coupled with slightly cooler temperature increases potential for disease problems.
So what are the options?
1. If vegetable garden is in open area, shade on south,southwest side to protect from afternoon sun (~25% shade or so)
2. If decide to do overhead, I would estimate 10-20% shade. See warning noted with overhead shade structure above.
3. Leave it open, but mulch generously and water with drip. Ensuring that soil stay moist (NOT wet). This keeps the root environment cools and sufficient moisture in the soil. [this is typical practice of commercial growers - they use plastic mulch]

THe third option is what I would encourage to maintain production. Also, a very important factor is choosing appropriate plants for the conditions in your area. For example, using a heat-tolerant tomato would result in better production when conditions are hot. For those information, you can contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension county office (http://grimes.agrilife.org) or check out some online resources from Texas A&M (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/vegetable/ and http://plantdiseasehandbook.tamu.edu )