Many parts of Australia get scorchingly hot over summer. As I write this, it is 36C outside and our garden is shimmering in the late afternoon heat. Lettuces and many other vegetables are not well-adapted to these high temperatures. Extreme heat can damage leaves and fruit, and reduce the productivity of your garden.

This handy idea and article has been contributed by one of SGA’s subscribers, Sarah Mare. He writes:

We’ve made shade cloth screens to protect our vegetables in the hottest months. The photo (below) shows one of our DIY sunshades, set up to protect plants from the midday and afternoon sun.

We made this sunshade using:
– 4 tall tomato stakes – for the frame
– 4 bamboo poles – 2 for the frame and 2 for the sunshade
– 1 piece of shade cloth
– Garden twine
– Nylon fishing line – to sew sleeves at the raw ends of the shade cloth

You should be able to get most of these materials from your local garden supplies outlet. You can get fishing line from some hardware stores or from a bait and tackle shop if you live near the water.

To make the frame:

1. Hammer a tomato stake into the ground at each corner of the vegetable bed.

2. Attach a bamboo crossbar between the two rear tomato stakes – the bamboo can be lashed to the tomato stakes using garden twine (see inset in photo below).

3. Attach a bamboo crossbar between the two front tomato stakes.


To make the sunshade:

1. Make a sleeve at each end of the shade cloth – the sleeves need to be wide enough hold a bamboo pole. You can do this by turning over the raw edge to create a very wide hem, and then sewing the layers together with fishing line.

2. Slide a bamboo pole into each sleeve.

Here is the completed sunshade, ready to go over the frame:

Drape the sunshade over the frame and secure it, so that it doesn’t thrash around in the wind. You can secure it by tying the ends of the bamboo poles to the frame, or tying them down to bricks or tent pegs.

The sunshade is adjustable – you can get more coverage by tying the sunshade out on an angle like a tent. Alternatively, you could make longer a sunshade so that you can cover both front and rear of the vegetable bed.

The sunshade is easy to store over winter. Just wrap the sunshade around its bamboo poles and store it in your shed or garage. The frame can be dismantled or left in place for next year.


Photographs by David Mare, 2017.