Cover Installation Instructions
Kootenay Covers need to be installed correctly to be effective. This tutorial outlines a way to carefully and quickly install the cover on a tree. These instructions work well for 8, 10, 12 and 14 foot covers. For 16 foot covers, see the special section at the end.
To begin, you will need the following items:
A. Four 10ft poles or pipes. You can use 1" diameter PVC pipe or 1/2" electrical conduit pipe. Painter's extendable poles also work very well.
B. Four tennis balls.
C. A utility knife with a sharp blade.
D. A piece of rope or cord measured and cut to be about four times the circumference of the trunk of the tree. The rope should be at least 1/4" in diameter. You want to be able to wrap the rope around the tree and fabric at least three times and tie it. Having a long enough rope is important to keeping the cover tied to the tree if you have medium to strong winds in your area.
E. Four helpful people who like to solve puzzles. Having a fifth person to stand back a bit and give verbal guidance can be helpful, too.
Using a sharp knife, cut a hole 1inch plus sign, "+", in each tennis ball. Place a pole in the hole in each tennis ball.
Unpack the cover from the box. Lay it out on a clean flat area like a lawn, pasture or driveway. One side of the cover will have Velcro straps sewn into the inside. Bunch up the side of the cover so you can affix the Velcro strap around the material from that side of the cover. It will appear like you have opened up one side of the cover.
Each of the four people places the tennis ball end of their pole in one of the four corners of the cover. Each of the four corners is marked with a red arrow on the fabric at the corner. Stand the cover up using the four poles. It should appear like a large white cube or box. One side of the cube will be bunched up and held in place by the Velcro straps. All four people will walk the cover over the tree and center it on the tree. Then all four people gently lower the cover until it rests on the top of the tree canopy. The two people closest to the Velcro straps each pull on the strap closest to them, releasing the fourth side of the cover so that it drops down and is the same length as the other three sides. Then lower the poles and remove them from the cover. The tree should be covered by the cover at this point.
All four people then gather up the bottom part of the cover and draw it in to the trunk. Some of the people can hold the cover in place while the other people wrap the rope tightly around fabric surrounding the trunk several times. Tie the two ends of the rope together tightly over the fabric around the trunk. A square knot works well. There are other fancier knot solutions that work even better.
You need to make sure that there are no open seams or holes into the cover. Use safety pins or clothes pins to close any open seams. Do not use duct tape. It will not last long enough and it gums up the cover. By wrapping the bottom of the cover around the tree, you often can close all the seams by just positioning the fabric carefully. If you leave open holes into the canopy, bugs will find them. They will come inside the canopy. The purpose of the cover will be thwarted.
Store the poles and tennis balls until harvest time so you can carefully remove the cover when you are done picking the fruit.
If you have a really tall tree, you may need to extend the length of your poles or prune the tree to be shorter. To extend your poles, you can buy two more 10ft PVC poles. Cut them in half. Use a female to female slip connector to add 5 ft more pole to each of your four poles. You will be able to lift the cover over the top of the tree and let it down. There are similar joints available for metal electrical conduit.
CAUTION: Be very careful to avoid hitting any overhead wires or cables when installing the cover. Also, be very careful to avoid hitting any people with the poles.
To thin or pick your fruit, untie the cover. Place a ladder under the cover. Thin or pick the fruit as needed. Remove the ladder. Re-tie the cover at the trunk. If you remove the cover while you still have fruit in the tree, insects will come in and lay eggs. Some insect eggs can hatch in as little as two or three days. You may have some fruit damaged by these quickly developing larvae. Be safe. Keep the cover on the tree until all the fruit is picked.
To remove the cover when all your fruit is picked, reverse the installation instructions. Untie the rope from around the trunk. Insert the four poles with tennis balls attached to the ends. Lift the cover off the tree. Lay it down on a clean surface. Fold it up. Place in a box or container for safe storage until next spring.
16 Foot Cover Installation Tips
First be sure you have pruned the tree so that it is 16 feet or less in diameter. You can stretch the cover a little bit, but the installation gets quite difficult if you are trying to stretch the cover too much.
To more easily install a 16 feet cover, have 6 people there to help, and 6 poles. If you are using PVC pipes, be sure to have the extensions described above.
When you install the cover, have three people in a row across the front of the cover and three people in the back. You all want to lift the cover at the same time to get the cover clear over the tree as you walk the cover towards the tree.
Once you get the cover mostly over the tree, use the poles with the tennis balls on the end to push the cover up and in the direction you need it to go to center the cover over the tree. You will be able to tell the cover is centered on the tree when the fabric draped around the tree is roughly equally spread around the tree on the ground. The person in the front middle will play a key role in sending the fabric all the way over the tree while the people on the corners keep their corners up. The person in the back middle may come up to the front and have four people across the front lifting the cover up at the same time to get the cover over the crown of the tree.