Gar­den Shel­ters

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - The Hills and Beyond - by Laura Rit­ten­house www.lau­rarit­ten­

A talk on Chicago’s Lin­coln Park Con­ser­va­tory was re­cently given to our club. The Vic­to­rian era glasshouse al­lows trop­i­cal plants to thrive in the cold cli­mate of Illi­nois. In Syd­ney, though we have a few freez­ing nights and chilly days each win­ter, the need for glasshouse­s is lim­ited.

That said, many plants would ap­pre­ci­ate pro­tec­tion from the worst of the weather and con­se­quently there are green­houses on the mar­ket to sat­isfy ev­ery gar­den need. These gar­den shel­ters not only pro­tect from cold and frost, they also help plants get a head start on spring. Gar­den­ers can sow seeds weeks ahead of what’s pos­si­ble in the open en­vi­ron­ment, earn­ing them an early crop of toma­toes or an un­sea­sonal dis­play of pot­ted colour.

An­other type of gar­den shel­ter that’s widely used in our neck of the woods is a shade house. Our prob­lem is the un­re­lent­ing sum­mer sun not fall­ing snow, so a bit of UV-block­ing cloth can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween scorched leaves and ver­dant fo­liage.

Ac­tu­ally, it’s not that hard to build your own shel­ter which works as frost pro­tec­tion, then plant in­cu­ba­tor, and can even­tu­ally be con­verted to a cool, shade house. Sim­ply ham­mer some star pick­ets into 2 rows where you want your shel­ter. Place poly tub­ing onto and con­nect­ing each pair of star pick­ets to form a row of arches. Cover the arches with plas­tic sheet­ing in win­ter and shade cloth in sum­mer. You can hang 2 sheets (plas­tic or shade cloth) at both ends to work as doors, or leave it open – our plants don’t need that much help with our nearper­fect weather.

These shel­ters also help con­trol soil mois­ture, hu­mid­ity and even de­ter pests like pos­sums and some in­sects. Our cli­mate is a gar­dener’s dream, but there’s no harm in try­ing to cre­ate a bet­ter dream.

If you’re in­ter­ested in gar­den­ing, join us at the Mac­quarie Towns Gar­den Club. We meet at 2:00 p.m. on the first Thurs­day of each month at the Wind­sor Li­brary. Check us out at: www.mac­qua­r­i­etowns­gar­den­club. word­ If you have sug­ges­tions or feed­back for me, send it c/o: con­trib­[email protected] hill­sto­hawkes­

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