Insect Fabrics In The Garden
Current Options For U.S. Gardeners

Repost Dateline: 26 March 2017
(originally published on 25 August 2016)

ProtekNet 25gr insect barrier on hoop cloches in my garden.

My recent post about the Haxnicks lantern cloche, and the observation that such a screened cloche has been an incredible boon to four kale plants in my garden, has led me on an investigation into insect screen options for garden beds.

I have used Agribon-over-hoops to make cloches in my garden for years. It works very well for getting plants off to a great start in the spring. But as the heat of summer comes, Agribon cloches get too hot on the inside. They also restrict sunlight and air movement, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Other downsides to Agribon are that it does not let any rain get through and it doesn't allow you to see what's happening inside the cloche (without lifting the cover).

On the other hand, an insect screen cover allows more sun, air, rain and visibility, while protecting your plants from insects, deer, rabbits, rodents and hail. 

I have found three brand-name insect fabric materials made for the garden:

1. Agralan Enviromesh
2. Haxnicks Micromesh
3.  ProtekNet 25gr

I've purchased all three to see them and put them to use in my garden. Here are some details for you...

Agralan Enviromesh

Agralan Enviromesh is made by Agralan Ltd. in the United Kingdom. I purchased a piece measuring 8'6" x 16' from Greenhouse Magastore.

The Enviromesh is made of UV stabilized woven polypropylene. Color is white. The grid size is 1.35mm x 1.35mm.

Agralan Enviromesh has apparently been around for a long time. They say their fabric has a 7 year lifespan, but with care it should last at least ten years. That's quite a claim!

When I opened the Enviromesh package, my wife said it looked like flea beetles could get through. I read the literature included with the fabric and it says "flea beetle may be discouraged by ENVIROMESH, but it may  not give complete control." Well, that was a bummer. One of the reasons I want netting is to exclude flea beetles.

Then I read: "In situations where flea beetle is a serious problem, it may be preferable to use ENVIROMESH ULTRA FINE, particularly over very small plants."

The Ultra Fine has a grid size of .8mm x .8mm. So I went looking for the Ultra Fine Enviromesh. I can't find a US source. I've contacted Enviromesh in the UK, but they have yet to reply.

Haxnicks Micromesh

I purchased a sheet of Haxnicks Micromesh measuring 16'6" x 5'10" from Gardener's Edge. It is made of woven polyropylene. It is UV stabilized. It has a green-yellow tint. 

Grid size is .6mm x .6mm, which they say will exclude flea beetles. Lifespan is not stated. Haxnicks does not make the same durability claims that Agralan makes for their Enviromesh. The difference in durability is visibly evident. While both fabrics are strong, the Enviromesh looks to be much stronger.

The Haxnicks package indicates that their mesh is made in China. 

ProtekNet

ProtekNet appears to be the most popular name-brand insect netting in the United States. The company actually  makes several different kinds of insect netting. The most commonly available option is the 25 gram. If you go to THIS LINK, and click  the "Brochures" tab, you can download a chart that compares all the ProtekNet fabric options. For the discussion here, I'll stick to the popular 25gr netting. 

Johnny's sells ProtekNet 25gr in large rolls for hundreds of dollars.  I bought a 82" x 33' piece from Purple Mountain Tools for considerably less. The picture at the top of this page shows some ProtekNet-covered cloches in my garden.

ProtekNet is a completely different kind of netting material. It is made of knitted (not woven) polyamide, which I understand to be a nylon. It is soft and stretchy, while the woven polypropylene materials (Enviromesh and Micromesh) are much stiffer. When you cut ProtekNet, the fabric edges curl. That doesn't happen with woven polypropylene.

ProtekNet has a very fine mesh at .35mm x .35 mm. It has no problem stopping flea beetles, and even smaller insects.

It is recommended that if you use hoops with ProtekNet, they be PVC, not wire, because the wire may damage the fabric. 

The stated lifespan for ProtekNet is only 1 to 3 seasons, which I interpret to be one season (or two if you're lucky). Though the material is said to  have UV resistance, my understanding is that nylon does not have anywhere near the long-term durability of polypropylene.

Conclusions

I like the stretchy ProtekNet for my small hooped cloches. But I don't like the idea of it not lasting. 

The Enviromesh looks like a vastly superior product. But the flea-beetle-excluding size  apparently isn't available in the United States. :-(

Other Options?

Yet another UK company (Gromax) makes a product called Gro-Net, which appears to be comparable to the Agralan Enviromesh (though the Agralan company disputes the long-term viability of Gro-Net). I contacted the Gro-Net company and the salesman was on vacation. But he's supposed to get back to me soon. It looks like their product is not yet available in the US. 

I'm not aware of any other insect netting material in the US that is specifically made for garden applications. I am curious to know if anyone reading this knows of other products. Or, do you have personal experience with any of the products I've discussed here?

There appears to be an opportunity in this country for someone to come up with a product on par with the UK Enviromesh. That is to say, a UV stabilized woven polypropylene that is made to last for a decade or more.

In an upcoming post I will tell you about a new approach to gardening that I'll be trying next year. And I'll show you the different netting materials on some hooped cloches.


Update 
For more information on this topic, please see my blog post titled, Everything You Need To Know About Enviromesh Insect Netting.



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