ROW COVERS ARE A BIG HELP WHEN THE TEMPERATURE DROPS
POSTED NOVEMBER 19, 2008
I try not to have warm weather vegetable crops still growing in the garden when freezing temperatures arrive, but I do like to have fresh green beans for our Thanksgiving dinner, so I make the one exception most years. With the overnight low predicted to be in the upper 20s last night, I dug out the row covers from the shed and used them to keep our Thanksgiving beans alive and well.
Row covers make protecting my green beans quick and easy. Lightweight floating row covers can simply be draped over the plants and secured to the ground using U-shaped pins. To better protect plants, I usually fashion a few simple supports using garden stakes so the row covers do not rest directly on the plants.
The covers are a made from a woven material that insulates well despite being very lightweight. At first glance you may not think they would protect veggies from such low temperatures – as low as 28 degrees for lightweight and 24 degrees for heavyweight row covers -- but they do a great job. I use the heavyweight covers.
Before I bought row covers, I had to use plastic or old blankets for cold protection in my front-yard garden. Neither works very well. Blankets are heavy and never the right size. Roll plastic does not provide much insulation and must be removed immediately in the morning or the sun will overheat the plants you are trying to protect.
Working with row covers and pins is a real pleasure – a dream, in fact -- after several years of wrestling with old blankets and black plastic weighted down with rocks and bricks. What a dreaded chore it used to be!
In addition to protecting late maturing warm weather crops, row covers are perfect for shielding lettuce from the cold when temperatures dip into the mid 20s, as they do during the winter months, and for protecting strawberry blossoms and fruit from freezing.
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