If your food crops are being eaten by insects or other pests, you may have an issue. prot If your crops are young, they may need to be protected from the cold weather. You can do this by covering them with a tarp or plastic sheeting. Row covers will help to protect crops.
Many people invest significant time and money into growing crops. Whether you grow your own seedlings or buy them, you want to create the best environment for them to thrive.
You cannot keep them inside forever, so when you plant them, you need to protect them until they are strong enough to survive on their own.
You can protect your plants by using row covers. The covers help protect against insects and other pests, regulate temperature and moisture, and are easy to install, remove, and store when not needed.
Let’s go over this helpful gardening tool in more detail.
What Are Row Covers
Row covers are a type of temporary cover that is placed over food crops to protect them. Greenhouses are sometimes called season extenders because they can help to extend the growing season by several weeks at the beginning and end of spring and fall.
They come in different materials as we’ll see below. Let’s take a look at the main benefits of using them.
How Floating Row Covers Work
Row covers can provide numerous benefits simultaneously. As you read through the list of uses, think about what your garden plants might need. This will help you determine what kind of garden row covers are best for your particular needs.
Although animals love to eat plants, this can be detrimental to the growth of the plant population. Row covers are effective in keeping out many pests in the home garden. If you use a row cover to keep insects away from your plants, your seedlings will get a good head start. Row covers act as a barrier between pests and established garden plants, protecting them from infestation. A floating row cover is a type of fabric that is placed over crops to protect them from insects. This is especially useful for warm-season crops, which are growing when insects are most active. This also applies to cool-season crops that can be planted during both the cool and warm seasons.
You can use crop rotation to prevent pests from attacking your plants by trapping them in an old bed and covering the new bed. Use them for insects that spend the winter in garden soil, or lay eggs that stay in the soil in winter and hatch in spring.
You can place a support and polypropylene row cover over gardens containing plants like marigolds or calendulas, which will attract pests, in order to trap and destroy them. As they feed on the tomatoes, they’ll be trapped and unable to seek out other flowers to feed on. After that, take off the row covers and get rid of the trap crop.
Row covers are a great way to protect plants from insects, wind, and frost. They can provide shade for young plants, and plants that are particularly sensitive to the sun’s rays. Row covers act as a barrier, protecting new plants from strong winds that could damage or break their delicate stems. By preventing this type of damage, row covers allow plants to develop strong, healthy roots. They cover plants that need to be early spring but are cold-sensitive. They provide shade for garden plants. They help maintain moisture levels by irrigating more frequently on warm days. Mulches are also effective in colder weather, as they help to keep the ground beneath them warm.
Row Covers As a Season Extender
If you want to extend the growing season, using row covers is a great solution! In addition to plant protection and pest exclusion, row covers can help you get a head start on the growing season. While they help to prevent damage from frost, they also allow cool-season crops to continue growing during warm weather without prematurely producing seeds. Broccoli and other leafy greens are especially sensitive to heat and will not grow well in warm weather. A row cover that floats on top of the plants will prevent flowering on many garden plants. Using row covers allows farmers to plant crops earlier than usual, which extends the amount of time the crops can be harvested.
Row covers can help reduce the amount of water your crops need by preventing evaporation. If you get enough rain and use permeable row covers, you may not need to water at all.
It is important to have moisture if you are planting young seedlings or if you are planting seeds directly into the ground. You might forget to water your plants every day if you have to go out to do it, which can be time-consuming. If you use row covers, you may only have to water every few days.
If you have plastic film covering your crops that does not allow rain to penetrate, you will need to either water your crops or remove the cover temporarily when it rains for at least a few hours.
Row Cover Types
There are three basic types of row covers. Heavy, medium, and lightweight. The season can affect which row covers you choose. When deciding which type of cover to use, take the following factors into consideration.
A row cover that is not heavy does not need support to allow for proper growth of plants, but it can work just as well in an area that is surrounded by a hoop. The material is permeable, so it allows water and sunlight to pass through it. Although they are not effective in guarding plants from frost, they can help to regulate temperature by trapping heat. This shade cloth is good for light-sensitive plants.
A heavyweight cover is better for extending the season in spring and fall than a lightweight cover because it traps more warmth. They protect plants from factors that may decrease yields. Medium weight covers are especially beneficial for root crops. If you’re working in a particularly cold winter, two layers can do a little more than just one. This type of cover allows light and water to pass through.
This is the best option if you need to cover and protect plants and crops during an extended hard freeze. Frost blankets act as insulation for plants, trapping heat in the ground and preventing drastic temperature changes that could damage or kill them. A heavyweight cover can protect the soil and plants from the elements and increase the temperature in direct sunlight. Remove the fabric cover from your row crops when the sun rises. If a plant is exposed to too much heat, the blossoms may fall off. At 86 degrees and above, heavyweight material can cause tomato crops to suffer blossom and fruit drop.
Unsuspecting Row Covers
If you don’t have polypropylene or polyester fabric, there are other options! You can use household items like greenhouse plastic, old sheets, a tarp, or old towels and blankets to create a makeshift green house. Farmers should sow their crops under large plastic bins with small air holes to protect them from the cold weather. Sturdy supports aren’t necessary, but you can use wooden stakes, branches, or dowel rods if you want. Be sure to remove plastics from the garden as soon as the sun comes up to prevent the plants from overheating. You should also remove the other types of covers from direct sunlight, but they won’t absorb as much heat as plastic would.
Steps To Install The Row Cover
Row cover is easy to install, especially if you leave the supports in all year and just remove the cover for preparing the soil, transplanting/seedling, pollination and storing when not needed.
If you have never used row cover before, you will need to install supports.
Installing the supports is usually the most time-consuming part. It depends, however , on what you’re using. The critical point here is to use enough support.
I try to put a support every foot. You need to have enough supports on hand, of course. If you have too many supports for your crops, it may be difficult to do weddings, watering, or other maintenance.
To put the steel hoops in, just push them into the ground like I did. Use PVC pipe to insert supports at least 6 inches deep for best results.
If you want a stronger and more permanent support, you can attach short lengths of PVC pipe to the inside of your raised garden beds. This is another advantage of raised beds over planting directly in the ground. If you are using PVC supports, you can pound in a short piece of rebar that the PVC supports can fit over.
Although wood frames are the easiest to install, they can be blown away by strong winds if the wind gets underneath the cover. You can build hinged covers for your raised beds that are easy to open and close for taking care of plants and for ventilation.
A ridge pole is an extra support that is added to tie all of the individual supports together. The ridge pole can be of the same material. Use bailing wire or string to tie everything together. T and + shaped connectors can be used to create a more sturdy support structure for PVC pipe.
Placing the Row Cover
You may need some help doing this, especially for larger covers. It will be very difficult to do this if it is even slightly windy outside. The covers act as sails, flapping around and not cooperating in any windy weather.
Start by clipping the cover in the middle at both ends of the bed. Check that the cover is long enough to cover the entire length of the object, and that it is centered so that both ends are covered evenly.
Securing the Cover with Clips
Attach the remaining cover clips to the supports. I usually don’t use any clips on the top of the intermediate supports. Make sure to cut the ends of the cover and the bottom of the sides well.
Choose another day to do this activity if the weather is windy.
Securing the Edges with Pins, Rocks or Boards
The clips are intended to hold the bottom of the sides in place. You’ll need to use something else to secure the cover at the ends and between the supports on the sides.
Pins that are especially made for row covers can be pushed in. I prefer using smooth rocks or lumber as these can tear the cover.
Be careful not to crush any plants when you’re placing the rocks or lumber along the edges of the bed. Even though there is a fence surrounding my raised garden, I can’t use it to hold the row cover down with rocks or lumber. During high winds, the rocks or lumber can sometimes fall off, or animals may knock them off while trying to get at the crops. Placing these hold-downs inside the bed is more secure.
Remember to Vent!
This doesn’t mean that you should get angry when you find that raccoons have ripped your row cover to pieces while trying to get to your crops!
Lifting the cover of the vent allows air to circulate and prevents the area from overheating. You will need to somehow determine when you need to do this. When you work a full-time job, it can be tough to find the time to do things you enjoy. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you leave for work to see if the day is going to be sunny. If it is, you should open the ends of the row cover to allow some air to flow through.
Using a row cover that is vented on each end will help to heat up the soil and retain heat. In really hot weather you may have to remove the whole cover and put it back on before nightfall.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do floating row covers work?
B: It all comes down to what you need them to do and what type you buy for that purpose. You should use a medium weight fabric if you need it to function as a frost cover. Use something lightweight if you need them to shade plants. See above for more types and uses!
A: There isn’t a good substitute for row covers. A: There is no good substitute for row covers.
You can use old towels, blankets, a tarp, greenhouse plastic, a plastic tub, or old sheets to protect your plants from frost.
Q: Are row covers worth it?
A: They certainly are. You should investigate ways to protect yourself with multiple forms of protection!
A: You can plant up to two weeks earlier with a row cover. You can plant up to two weeks earlier with a row cover than without one.
B: Some flowers can also be planted an extra week or two earlier. Certain crops can be planted a week or two earlier than usual, and some flowers can also be planted an extra week or two earlier.
Q: Can I leave plants covered all day?
Q: How often should you change your boat cover? It depends on the season and the type of cover you’re using. In an arctic winter, you likely won’t need any extra cover. As soon as the sun rises, remove the heavier covers in snap freezes.