Seeds that are directly sown into the garden need protection. I have had many new seedlings emerge in the garden only to have them accidentally dug out by foraging birds or purposefully eaten by hungry garden visitors. I invented my own method to protect my emerging seedlings. Small, simple to make, re-usable covers that pin into the soil with wire hooks.
How to Construct Covers
Cut a length of flexible, plastic or wire trellis, leaving a row of vertical spikes at the bottom, this gives the cages something to grip into the soil with.
Overlap the two long sides of the piece of trellis to create a tube and secure by wrapping with twine.
Cover the tube with a fine netting, leaving a large overhang at the top.
Stitch the sides together with some more twine, a wool needle can help here as it has a large eye for threading the twine.
Gather the excess netting at the top and wrap with more twine and you’ve finished.
Sow seed and place your homemade cover over the top, I like to further secure the cover by hooking wire over the bottom rung of the cage and pinning it into the soil.
I have tried many methods to protect my innocent green babies, including sowing seed into partially buried toilet paper rolls and covering seedlings with plastic milk or juice bottles. These methods work but have their drawbacks.
Partially burying toilet paper rolls and sowing your seeds inside makes it harder for birds to inadvertently dig up the seed but does nothing to stop snails and slugs from nibbling off the tender new shoots.
Covering seedlings with plastic bottles works to keep out chewing creatures and digging birds but I worry that the plastic will intensify the sun too much on hot days and burn my seedlings.
I wanted to cover my seedlings with a hoop and tunnel system, a simple structure of arches with either plastic or netting stretched over the top, but my 1200mm garden beds aren’t big enough.
I adapted the hoop and tunnel system, made it smaller and more vertical to take up less room in my small vegetable plot.
I cover my seed when I sow them, the mesh enables good ventilation and allows water to pass easily through to the young seed and I can keep the covers on until my plants are big enough to overcome the hazards that nature throws their way.