Row Covers

Easy-to-build row covers protect your crops from frost and other damage.

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row covers can extend the season and protect crop from pestsHandling 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:

  • Row covers are available in small pieces that are easy to manage, but it’s more economical to buy a larger roll and cut pieces to fit as you need them.
  • 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, which you can buy from garden suppliers or make yourself from 9-gauge wire, are perfect for supporting row covers over garden beds. Use hoops both under and over the fabric to hold it in place.
  • At the end of the season, shake the covers to loosen dirt and debris, and make sure they’re dry. Fold or roll them and store them in a plastic storage bind for winter, either in a garden shed or outdoors. Weight the cover of the tub with rocks or bricks to keep it tightly closed.
  • If a piece of row cover is torn in several places, cut it up into small pieces for patching larger sections of cover that have small holes. Waxed dental floss works well for “sewing” the patches.
  • 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 information about extending the growing season, see our article about Cold Frames.

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