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Horticultural fleece

by Jekka McVicar

Serious potting has started on the farm. This is two weeks earlier than last year as the light has been so good that our wintered cuttings are already putting on new growth.

Jekka McVicar planting seed for Gardeners' World Magazine photo shootIt has been one of those typical early spring weeks, not enough hours to do everything I want to do. The team from BBC Gardeners' World Magazine came down for a couple of days to take a series of photographs on how to raise plants from seed. This is in preparation for a new series that I am writing for the magazine which is planned to be published next spring. So that everything did not blow away we set up in one of our multi-spans. Of course one of my cats, in this case Basil, had to get in on the action.

Serious potting has started on the farm. This is two weeks earlier than last year as the light has been so good that our wintered cuttings are already putting on new growth.

Horticultural staff working at potting machineOnce the plants are potted they are then covered with horticultural fleece. This protects them from the very cold nights that we have been having. We are also using this fleece on our Chelsea Flower Show plants to protect them and give them that little extra warmth which will encourage them to start producing new growth.

We always remove the fleece from the plants on warm sunny days and hang it up to dry. If the plants are wet when covered it can cause the fleece to become damp. In very cold conditions, the fleece can then freeze on to the leaves, damaging them. This is an absolute 'no-no' with respect to the Chelsea Flower Show stock because you can hear the judges tutting already, even in February!

Horticultural fleece hanging in a polytunnelFor those that don't know about horticultural fleece it is a good way of protecting plants from frost. Later in the season it also protects plants in the carrot family, such as parsley, from carrot root fly and those in the brassica family, including salad rocket, from flea beetle.

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Gardeners' World Web User 28/02/2008 at 12:18

if growing might used straw or old newspapers net currants work quite well as well with star tho have net it down on an exposed site

Gardeners' World Web User 28/02/2008 at 15:41

A question about fleece that nobody has answered yet is when you use it to protect against pea moth how do the pollinating insects get to the pea flowers?

Gardeners' World Web User 19/09/2008 at 14:28

What about desert plants that don't mind cold but hate wet? I don't think fleece is the answer.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/11/2008 at 13:36

I like to use fleece in a bag shape, a quick tack up with some thread around 3 sides, but leaving a tiny hole ont the bottom side, and I plant my baskets up early in the greenhouse then when its at that time you are swithering or not if its safe to put them out or not, I slip the hanging basket chain hook through the hole and hang it up outside in situ, then I can pull it over the basket quickly at night, then its just as easy in the am.You can buy something similar but they are expensive.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/11/2008 at 17:50

I think if you mix a lot of gravel and sharp sand in the soil/pot this helps, especially for things like the more frost-resistant agaves, succulents.

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