The use of fabric in a vegetable garden is a time-tested technique. You can use fabric in the garden in a variety of ways. Fabric is used for weed and erosion control. It may be used in floating row covers to protect plants from insects and the elements. Strips of fabric may also be used to tie plants, such as vine tomatoes and beans, to a stake, fence or trellis. Fabric flags blowing in the wind act as a simple deterrent for birds and small animals.
Floating Row Covers
A row cover or garden fabric helps protect plants from cold, too much heat, wind, insects and disease. You may purchase garden fabric from a variety of online lawn and garden centers or at your local garden supply store. Floating row covers come in several types, including a light summer weight fabric and a thicker version for fall and winter. They allow sun, air and water to get through to your plants; however, they keep out most insects, along with their eggs and worms. Drape the row covers right over your garden plants. Some people install metal hoops or wooden frames over which they drape the fabric. To hold the row covers in place, simply stake each corner with garden stakes. You may also use a brick, handful of dirt or a rock to anchor the corners.
Blankets and Sheets
A heavier grade of garden fabric will protect your tender plants from cold weather. You can buy floating row covers in light or heavy grade. During a cold snap, if you don't have a floating row cover, you may use anything from blankets to bed sheets to protect your plants overnight from snow and ice. Be sure to remove these when the sun comes up, however, because they might heat up the plants too much.
Landscape fabric can keep weeds out of your garden and patio. It's often used on pathways between rows or garden beds to keep the grass from growing up, choking your plants and attracting pests. It's much easier than chopping grass out with a hoe or mowing. It is sometimes used for erosion control on sloping properties. Roll it out over the area you wish to cover and stake the edges using landscape stakes, which also is found at garden centers. Heavy landscape fabric also works great when thrown over a compost heap. It helps to speed up the heating and decomposing process so you'll have compost for your garden much quicker. It usually comes in rolls that are 3 feet wide and 50 to 100 feet long.
Cut slender strips of fabric to use as ties for your staked plants, such as vine varieties of tomatoes and beans. The fabric strips have an advantage of being both soft and flexible, so they will cause less damage to tender vines. Drape them loosely around the vine and the structure and tie together in a secure knot.
You can use fabric as a bird and small animal deterrent in your garden. Attach strips of fabric to a post or for a more aesthetically pleasing look, place decorative flags around the garden. The action created when they blow in the wind will scare away small pests.
This fabric protects plants, such as grape vines or berry bushes, from birds. Bird netting allows your plants to get the proper sunlight, water and nutrients, but prevents birds and larger insects from devouring your harvest.