- Polyethylene film
- Agrofibre (agrofilm, non-woven polypropylene fiber)
- Mulching covering materials
- Shading meshes
Light-stabilized polyethylene film, reinforced and air-bubble, agrofibre, agrotechnical, polycarbonate, shading nets – all these covering materials help to create an optimal microclimate for plants. Consider the features of each of them, decide on the selection criteria.
The temperate climate zone does not pamper gardeners with the ideal temperature for growing vegetables and fruits. Even in the spring, when it seems that stable heat has already been established, night frosts can suddenly strike. The use of various covering materials helps to protect plants from such “surprises”. In addition to protecting against low temperatures, they also help fight weeds and protect delicate plant leaves from sunburn..
This type of covering material has been used by gardeners for many years. Greenhouses and hotbeds are covered with polyethylene, with its help various temporary shelters for plants are built, allowing harvesting 15–20 days ahead of schedule. The main advantage of polyethylene film is its relatively low price and ease of installation..
On the market today you can find the following types of plastic films:
- light stabilized;
Light stabilized plastic filmwidely used in the construction of greenhouses and seasonal greenhouses. During its manufacture, a light stabilizer is added to its composition, which protects polyethylene from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, thus increasing its service life. Sometimes a dye can be added to the film, which changes the spectrum of sunlight. Light-stabilized film is able to protect plants from frost down to -8 ° С.
Reinforced polyethylene filmconsists of three layers: the first two are light-stabilized polyethylene, the third is a mesh of polypropylene thread. This structure significantly increases the strength of the material, which allows it to be used for the construction of year-round greenhouses. The reinforced film perfectly transmits and distributes the sun’s rays, is highly resistant to damage. Unlike conventional film, reinforced film can be “repaired”.
Air bubble polyethylene filmcan be two-layer or three-layer. Its density varies from 40 to 150 microns. Air-bubble polyethylene retains heat better due to air bubbles sealed in polyethylene honeycomb. In addition, this covering material is characterized by increased mechanical density..
All types of plastic wrap have one serious drawback – they “don’t breathe”. Therefore, when building greenhouses with its use, it is necessary to take care of the installation of special transoms for ventilation, and in hot weather, the film should be removed so that the plants do not “suffocate”.
Agrofibre (agrofilm, non-woven polypropylene fiber)
This covering material recently appeared on the market, but since then it has already gained immense popularity among gardeners..
Agrofibre is made from fiber-forming polymers using a special technology, as a result of which a web with the smallest holes – pores – is obtained. When using agrofilm, the need for airing disappears, even on hot days the plants under it do not “suffocate”.
Agrofilm allows you to create a special favorable microclimate in indoor structures:
- the air under it heats up for a long time and slowly cools, which means that temperature fluctuations during the day and at night will be small;
- during drought, the soil under agrofibre does not dry out, and during heavy rains, excess moisture is not absorbed into the coating.
When buying agrofibre, special attention should be paid to its density:
- Density from 17 to 30 g / m22 – used to protect plants from spring night and morning frosts down to -3 ° C, as well as to protect the beds from birds and insects. Agrofibre of this density is most often used for temporary shelters and greenhouses. The lightness of the material allows, when a cold snap occurs in the spring, to lay it on the beds even without a frame, sprinkling it with earth around the perimeter, or pressing it down with a board or bricks.
- Density from 30 to 42 g / m22 – perfect as a covering material for the construction of seasonal greenhouses for seedlings or vegetables. The material is strong enough, even without heating in spring, it is able to protect plants from frost down to -6 ° С.
- Density 60 g / m2 – used for the construction of year-round greenhouses. High strength allows you not to remove the material for the winter, and the ability to perfectly retain heat helps protect plants from frost down to -10 ° C.
In addition to density, agrofibre differs in color:
- white agrofilm is designed to protect plants from low temperatures and strong winds;
- black agrofibre is used for mulching beds and protecting plants from weeds (we will talk in more detail about its use later).
Polycarbonate is an ideal material for building greenhouses, both seasonal and year-round. Today it is considered the most reliable, its service life is more than 20 years..
Polycarbonate perfectly transmits light, keeps heat well. He is not afraid of either wind or rain, he is not affected by fungi. Due to its light weight and plasticity, this covering material is very easy to install. The only drawback of polycarbonate is its rather high cost, in comparison with polyethylene film and agrofiber..
Polycarbonate is produced in the form of sheets of standard sizes (2.1×2 m, 2.1×6 m and 2.1×12 m). The thickness of the leaf can be different – from 3.2 mm to 3.2 cm.If you decide to choose this material for the construction of a greenhouse, you should remember that the more complex (and therefore more expensive) the internal structure of the leaf, the more reliably it will protect the plants.
Mulching covering materials
For mulching the beds and protecting plants from weeds, black agrofibre and agrotextile (agrotextile) are used.
Black agrofibrehas a density of at least 60 g / m2. Use black agrofiber as follows: spread the material on the ground, make criss-cross cuts or cut round holes in the places of planting of seedlings or seeds. The edges of the agrofibre are sprinkled with earth or fixed with stones, boards or wire.
Black agrofibre perfectly permeates air and water, but does not let light through, so that all the weeds under it die. In addition, the use of this material allows you to improve the soil structure – the soil is not compacted during watering, the roots of the weeds rot over time and turn into a valuable fertilizer. From the beds covered with this covering material, moisture evaporates much more slowly, therefore, the plants need to be watered less often..
Agrotkanit is used in the same way as black agrofibre, these materials differ only in the manufacturing technology (agrotechnical, in contrast to agrofibre, is a woven material). Agrotextiles can be of different density (from 90 to 130 g / m2) and by color (black, green, gray).
Such nets are made of high-strength tape polyethylene. Used to protect plants from the bright summer sun. Thanks to their strength, they can protect plants from hail and birds.
Many gardeners use shading nets to protect ripe fruits from damage when falling, fixing the material under trees during the ripening of the crop, and some make special devices of them for drying vegetables, fruits, berries and mushrooms in the open sun.
Table. Comparative characteristics of covering materials
Name Main characteristics Price, rub / m2 Light stabilized polyethylene film It transmits and distributes sunlight well. Protection of plants from frost up to minus 6-8 degrees. Service life 1-2 years. 18-20 Reinforced polyethylene film High strength of the material, service life up to 5 years. Possibility of repairing damaged areas. Good light transmission. Frost protection up to minus 8 degrees. 23–35 (depending on thickness) Bubbled polyethylene film Frost protection up to minus 10 degrees. Increased durability along with decent light transmission. Service life up to 5-6 years. 80-100 (depending on density and number of layers) Agrofibre white Perfectly transmits light, air and moisture. Provides slight temperature fluctuations. Protects plants from frost from minus 2 to minus 10 degrees – depending on the density. The service life also depends on the density – from 2 to 5-6 years. Density 17: 7-10 rubles / m2
Density 23: 10-12 rubles / m2
Density 30: 12-14 rubles / m2
Density 42: 18-20 rubles / m2
Density 60: 24-26 rubles / m2
Agrofibre black Destroys weeds. Promotes early warming of the soil. Improves soil structure. Perfectly permeable to water and air. Reduces the need for watering. Service life up to 6-8 years. Density 60: 24-26 rubles / m2 Agrotkan Destroys weeds. Promotes early warming of the soil. Improves soil structure. Perfectly permeable to water and air. Reduces the need for watering. Service life up to 10 years. Density 90: 50-53 rubles / m2
Density 100: 58-58 rubles / m2
Density 130: 75-77 rubles / m2
Polycarbonate Excellent light transmission. Frost protection from 10 to 12 degrees. Ease of installation. Incredible durability – service life up to 20 years. From 100 to 350 rubles / m2 – depending on the density, color and thickness of the sheet Shading grid Protects plants from the scorching sun, hail damage and birds. From 33 to 60 rubles / m2 – depending on density and manufacturer
As you can see, the choice of covering materials is quite large, therefore, before acquiring this or that type, you should clearly define the purpose of its use. In addition, when buying, you should carefully read the description and recommendations for use, where all the main characteristics of the covering material should be indicated.