CATHIE DRAINE: Dog and doe adventures in the shady summer garden | Lifestyles

What can local gardeners anticipate as challenges for the summer garden? Hail? Stag? Drought? Grasshoppers? For us, it would be hail and heat. Deer are usually not on the list as we have a good strong six foot fence around the garden and two strong gates.

However, it helps to close a door well. The doe in our neighborhood, the one that produces adorable twin fawns every year, the one that stands gracefully on its hind legs to nibble on the neighbor’s apples from its trees, the one that picketed and snorted when we erected the fence that interrupted her well-established path on the other side of the yard, she took advantage of one of the gates, open by the wind, to have a meal in the garden.

We know this animal well. She and Boots, our dog, stand 10 feet apart and declare a truce with no barking or hunting. She is normally part of the neighborhood.

But on the morning of the open house, she came in and pruned the roses, bush beans, peppers, squash and tomatoes. She nibbled all the fennel foliage, consumed two heads of lettuce, tasted a blooming succulent, and ate all the lady’s mantle flowers.

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Boots and I entered the garden through the other closed door and just got to work. Then Boots encountered the doe still grazing and a short chase from Boots and aerial activity from the deer caused her to scoot by my shoulder on her last leap before the fence. She erased it. I was stunned. Boots shrugged. The next time.

We saw the door open and closed it.

And then it got hot. Seriously hot. Hot sun daggers. I took out the shade cloth to protect some recently planted perennials that were struggling in full sun.

The tomatoes are in the “tomato lounge”, an area protected by a hail screen. Looking at the light shadow created by the white hail screen, I began to wonder about heat and shadow.

Shade is created when an object (such as hail shield) breaks or diffuses the sun’s rays as well as ultraviolet (UV) rays. But is it cool, I wondered. Authorities suggest that a common hail screen could lower the temperature by about 10 degrees and also create light shade.

Hail protection material is available in a variety of strengths, weave types and colors. All the information I could find on the shading potential of the hail screen indicates that so many other factors – wind, sunlight angle, humidity, and the physical environment – need to be considered. It cannot be said with scientific precision what the shading and temperature effect of a hail screen would be.

We are much more familiar with commercial shade cloths and they also come in different widths, colors and capacities to diffuse both sun and UV rays. Search the web for the Cmac Industries shade cloth blog. This Australian company has an informative blog that explains how to choose the right shade fabric for your needs, all of this information applies to gardens here. There is a full discussion of woven and knitted shade fabrics as well as the crucial percentages of the product that are so important. For example, the 60% shade cloth available locally and on the web is green, woven, and diffuses 60% of the sun and ultraviolet rays.

The ability of shade cloth to reduce the destructive impact of UV-B rays on plants is of crucial importance to the gardener. We all know that Ultra Violet-B (UV-B), delivered by the sun, is one of the causes of human skin cancer. UV-B can also cause serious damage to plants by interrupting the vital process of photosynthesis and damaging plant DNA.

I think having enough shade cloth and knowing how to use it for your small greenhouse, garden plot or any other specific area is as important as soil and water as we experience these hot and scorching summers .

Cathie Draine is a Black Hills native and lifelong gardener. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association. She lives and gardens at Whispering Pines in Rapid City.

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