The weather can be extremely unpredictable. You will think that everything is going well because the weather is hot, and then suddenly, there is a boom. Temperatures drop, and there are frost or hail warnings to deal with. Enter horticultural wool.
If you live in an area that experiences sudden gusts of wind, hail, or other bad weather, read on. You’ll find out why this wool is so invaluable, plus some tips on how to use it to good effect.
- 1 What is horticultural wool?
- 2 4 reasons to use this fleece
- 3 Tips for Using Gardening Wool
- 4 Disadvantages of using horticultural wool
- 5 Pros and cons of horticultural wool
What is horticultural wool?
I recently learned about how to use gardening wool, and it’s amazing stuff. You know how we put blankets on the bed or wear wool clothes to keep us warm in winter? It’s basically the same thing, only for plants.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to deal with a sudden, unexpected cold while gardening. It has been particularly true horticulture in Canada as well as in the UK at high altitudes. Gardening wool can make all the difference.
In addition to helping you manage weather events, it can also protect your plants from pets and pests.
4 reasons to use this fleece
An unexpected heatwave could cause some of your brassicas and herbs to bolt, but that’s about it. Conversely, a sudden chill (or hail…) can destroy your garden. For that matter, vulnerable plants can be susceptible to all kinds of damage. This includes birds, insects, rabbits and other predators in addition to severe weather.
Since wool is so light, it can be draped over even the softest plants. This creates a protective barrier that the critters can’t get through.
1. Keep chickens away from freshly sown seeds
Do you have free-range chickens? Then you have probably become frustrated with them pecking freshly sown crops from the soil. Cover those seeds with horticultural wool until the seedlings establish themselves. This might frustrate your chicks a bit, but at least they won’t destroy all those hours of hard work.
2. Extend the Growing Season
In addition to keeping your plants safe from frostbite, fleece offers another huge benefit. Since this is an insulating blanket, you can extend your growing season in both directions. Early potatoes and greens can stay warm with layers of horticultural fleece. Similarly, you can keep one or two of these layered blankets by keeping lettuce, cabbage, and various root vegetables warm in the winter.
I have managed to keep tomatoes and peppers safe from early frosts by using these fleece in autumn. If you’re in zone 6 or lower, keep them on hand for whatever you’re growing. From September onwards frosts can occur, and with tender plants it is better to exercise caution.
While we can’t grow vegetables all winter in our area (4b), if you’re in a slightly warmer location, you may be able to. This wool is not only lightweight: it also lets light pass through. This means that you can keep your hardy winter crops warm (and growing) well when others are turned to mulch.
3. Protect young trees and flowering shrubs
Of course, wool can also provide protection to other types of vulnerable plants. Have you planted young fruit or nut trees this season? Then wrap them in a few layers of fleece to keep them warm and secure in the winter. This will greatly increase their chances of survival.
Not only will their core be kept warm, but they will also be kept safe from hungry herbivores. Deer especially like to gnaw on young plants. Keep young cherry and apple trees with their sharp teeth away from hazelnut bushes and rose bushes.
4. Emergency Insulation
While this is not the main use for this type of wool, it is another benefit to add to the list. You may have noticed that the weather is not reliable at all. It can change all at once, and a sudden, severe cold outbreak can happen literally overnight.
Having a good chunk of this fleece on hand means you can put together an impromptu insulating layer for your chicken coop, rabbit hutch, or other outdoor small animal enclosure. Truth be told, you can even use it to keep yourself warm in an emergency. Like most other supplies, it’s better to have it than to find yourself in a situation where you don’t need it, where you need it, and don’t have it on hand.
Tips for Using Gardening Wool
This fleece is extremely versatile, but there are definitely some tips and tricks to use it well.
store it nearby
I cannot stress this enough. Keeping your gardening wool near your most vulnerable plants can mean all the difference to their survival. Seriously, every second counts when it comes to saving your seedlings. You might think it’s a good idea to store your wool in a basement or garage, but how long does it take you to get there, grab the wool, and then unroll it?
Noah. Roll it up and keep it ready in a tall plastic bin nearby.
Place the bin near your vulnerable plants in an area where it won’t block sunlight. Then weigh it (or secure it with pegs) so that it doesn’t tip over, and rip a wooden or metal bar through it. Move the yarn around the bar so that you can unroll it in a matter of seconds.
Another option is to build it against a wall, under a tarp or protective ledge to keep the weather out.
Invest in lots of pegs
Remember that this fleece is super lightweight. Not only is this great for crushing your wee shoots and herbs, but it also means it can go bad elsewhere with the slightest wind. Whether you’re only using two oars or several of them, you’ll need a lot of pegs to hold them in place.
The best ones to use are U-shaped pegs designed specifically for gardening clothing. The single pegs can come loose really easily, while the U-shaped ones hold the fabric down securely. like stitches. I suggest you get about 3x more than you think. This is because you’ll inevitably lose out on some high winds, critters, and having to throw them around in desperation.
Disadvantages of using horticultural wool
Like every other tool, this fleece also has advantages and disadvantages. We’ve gone over the pros, so let’s take a look at some of the cons.
1. Encourages Fungal Blights
So, you know how this wool keeps plants warm by insulating them? Well, it also heats the surrounding area. Additionally, it traps considerable moisture as it is not permeable. What happens when heat mixes with moisture in the growing environment? That’s right: rot.
When you use horticultural wool, you run the risk of doing some farming enthusiasts. botrytis Pathogens and/or downy mildew. This is often when people rescue early strawberries from wool, only to find their beautiful berry crops turn into lovely moose.
Use wool only when absolutely necessary, and allow them to air/dry regularly in the hot sun.
2. Inhibiting Pollination
Tender crops that require insect pollinators may fail to thrive under wool. After all, if you need bees to fertilize your berries, cucumbers, squash, etc. and they can’t go through weaving, you won’t get a harvest.
If you are going to cover your plants during their flowering period, you need to be diligent with wool. Cover the plants only at night, so they can get plenty of bug lovin’ during the day.
3. Not ideal for organic gardening
If you’re into organic farming (and trying to live as organically as possible), you might not want to include regular horticultural wool in your gardening repertoire. After all, they are woven from polyester or polypropylene – both are plastic. And this plastic will undoubtedly leach particles into your soil, which will get into your plants (and water table), etc.
Additionally, since this stuff is flimsy and cracks easily, it usually needs to be replaced annually. It is absolutely not sustainable in the long term. If you have foxes or raccoons, you can bet they’ll rip your wool to pieces before you blink. Sure, you can replace wool if you have the budget to do so, but they can’t be recycled, so the damaged ones will end up in landfills.
An alternative to plastic wool is wool based garden felt. It’s a lot pricier than the standard kind, but it won’t shed microplastics in your garden. Additionally, it is better as a base, or a cover for trees and hardy plants, than a lightweight cover.
Pros and cons of horticultural wool
As you can see, there are both pros and cons to using horticultural wool in your garden. You will need to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons for your needs. For most people living in cold regions, having some of this wool on hand can make a huge difference in terms of crop survival.
These wools are very beneficial for protection against pests such as cabbage white butterflies and carrot flies. but they Will Shed the microplastic with every use.
If you think your gardening efforts will benefit from these fleece, be sure to grab several of them. Taking good care of them will make them last a long time, and your harvest will undoubtedly flourish under their warm embrace.
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