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Protect Your Fall Crops with Row Covers

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Row covers can be an easy and economical way to protect your fall and late summer crops from cooler temperatures. Try these simple tips to extend your garden season!

With lows in the 40’s, we saw our first early taste of fall this weekend in Central Ohio. Whether you are trying to extend your summer garden by a few more weeks, or protect your newly planted fall crops while they get their roots established, row covers can be very helpful. They can also help protect new seedlings from end-of-season pests that may attack them.

Lightweight and usually inexpensive, row covers come in a variety of types, and they are a great method to make your garden last longer this year.

Here are a few tips for using row covers in your fall garden:

It is the rare gardener who finds the growing season long enough. Fortunately, gardeners can satisfy the itch to plant early and to keep crops producing through fall by using row covers. Made of light, permeable material, usually polypropylene or polyester, row covers can be laid loosely on top of plants or supported with wire hoops. They’re available in different weights that provide varying degrees of frost protection.

Floating Row Covers

The lightest-weight row covers, also called floating row covers, allow air, water, and up to 85 percent of ambient light to pass through. They provide only a few degrees of frost protection, but they are an excellent barrier against damage by a wide range of pests.

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Heavier Row Covers

Gardeners can also use heavier row covers to protect plants from freezing and extend the gardening season. These row covers can provide as much as 8 degrees of frost protection. They also block more light, so plants underneath them may not grow as quickly….

Plastic Row Covers

Row covers made of plastic or slitted plastic require careful management because temperatures under plastic row covers can be as much as 30 degrees higher than the surrounding air. You will need to vent them on warm days and close them back up at night. Slitted plastic row covers don’t require venting…. Suspend plastic row covers over the row with metal, plastic, wire, or wooden hoops to prevent injuring plants….

Handling Row Covers

Working with fabric row covers may seem awkward at first, because the lightweight fabric tends to blow around while you’re putting it in place if there’s even a small breeze. The fabric also tears easily on sharp edges. But with a little experience, you’ll learn how to work with the material. Here are some tips for getting the best from row covers:

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  • The quick and easy way to anchor row cover is with rocks or soil, but this also tends to tear the fabric quickly. Instead, try using plastic soda bottles partially filled with water as weights, or make “sandbags” by filling plastic shopping bags partway with soil.
  • Wire hoops… are perfect for supporting row covers over garden beds….
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    To protect upright plants with row cover, put a small tomato cage in place around the plant and wrap row cover fabric around the cage, pinning it in place with clothespins.

For more tips on working with row covers, see the full article at RodalesOrganicLife.com.

 

Image Source: Gardeners.com.

 

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