If you have struggled with frost and pests in the garden, then row covers might just be the answer!
Row covers are a quick, easy, and a fairly inexpensive solution to protecting vegetables from pests, frost and disease.
For us, it has become an excellent way to protect our cauliflower and cabbage crops from cabbage worms. They also help protect our fruit trees, strawberries and grapes from beetles, birds and more.
But beyond the insect control, the thermal protection of row covers lets us plant cool-weather crops sooner. That means great tasting salads can be on the table a month or so earlier. And best of all, they are a life saver from early or late season frosts.
Here are the basics of how row covers work, and how to use them in your home garden and landscape.
The Basics of Row Covers
One of our favorite uses for row covers is frost protection.
We have all been there when the bad news hits. The garden is planted, the weather is warm, and suddenly, the weatherman calls for temperatures to plummet!
So what do we do? We start looking for anything and everything to cover our plants. Pots, tarps, old rugs – you name it – we have used it! There used to mornings we would wake up to a garden that looked more like the remnants of a junk yard.
But with row covers, you can easily protect entire rows all at once. We use an 83″ wide x 25′ long row cover to protect 2 to 3 of our raised growing rows at once. They provide up to 4 to 6 degrees of extra protection for plants. That’s more than enough when the temps get near that scary 32 degree mark on a late spring cold snap.
Lightweight row covers can be used in the garden to protect crops from insect damage. For years, we struggled with keeping cabbage moths and the resulting cabbage worms off of our broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants.
Now we simply put a few hoop stakes in the ground, and place lightweight row covers over our crops when the heads start to form. Hoop stakes can be purchased in all types of sizes to make row cover placement a breeze. You can also use bricks or even rocks to hold down covers as well.
They are also great for placing over salad crops to keep insect damage from the leaves.
Protecting Fruit Trees, Berries and Grapes
And finally, row covers are wonderful for protecting fruit trees, and crops like blueberries, strawberries, and even grapes from both frost and insects. I like them so much more than netting because they are much easier to install and place over small shrubs or even trees.
This year, we will also be using them on our grapes as the season progress to help protect from Japanese beetles.
One thing is for sure, having a few inexpensive row covers on hand is a great way for gardeners to be ready for just about anything!
Here is to protecting your garden this year, and to a great harvest! Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up for our free email list. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.