Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cloth Covers for Tomato Beds

Cloth covers for beds should be made of heavy, unbleached sheeting or light duck, and it is better that the selvage run up and down the bed rather than lengthwise. The cloth is torn into lengths of about 13 feet and then sewn together with a narrow double-stitched flat seam so as to form a sheet 13 feet wide and about 8 inches longer than the bed. The edges are tacked every foot to the strips about 2 inches wide by 7/8 inch thick with beveled outside edges and laid perfectly in line. A second line of strips is then nailed to the first so as to break joints with it and so that the two will form a continuous roller about a foot longer than the bed with the edge of the curtain firmly fastened in its center. The center of the curtain is secured to the central ridge of the bed by strips of lath. When rolled up, the rollers are held in place by loops of rope around their ends and when they are down they are held by similar loops to the notched tent-pins driven into the ground or to wooden buttons fastened to the sides and ends of the frame.

Cloth covers are sometimes dressed with oil, but this is not to be recommended, though it is an advantage to have them wet occasionally with a weak solution of copper sulphate or with sea water as a preservative and to prevent mildew. Such covers, well cared for, may last five years or be of little use after the first, depending upon the care given them. They can be made from 50 to 200 feet long and two men can roll them up or down very quickly.

When cloth covers are used the supporting cross-strips should not be over 3 inches wide nor more than 3 feet apart; sometimes the strips are made to bind the sideboard and ridge together by means of short pieces of hoop iron or of barrel hoop. These are so placed and nailed as to hold the upper edge of sideboards and of the central ridge flush with the cross-strips, thus forming a smooth surface for cloth to rest on and enabling one easily to "knock down" and remove the frames to facilitate the taking of the plants from the bed to the field and the storing of the frames for another season.

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