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Floating Row Covers - A Gardener's Best Friend

I love row covers, no question about it. The reasons? They are an inexpensive, garden-saving, bug-repelling, season-extending gardening tool that I've used for the last half dozen years. An organic grower I worked for one summer introduced me to the practice of using this material. The product is a synthetic fabric designed to lie on top of and provide protection for all kinds of plants. Not only is the fabric so light the plants don't get bent or squashed, but also rain will percolate through without causing any problems. Air circulation is maintained and, in addition, the sun's rays will pass through the fabric easily, thereby ensuring that plants continue to thrive.

My reasons for using it are numerous and include the following:

Season Extender

The cloth gives you the ability to add weeks to the season, both in spring and fall. It does this by increasing the heat trapped between the soil and the fabric; this increases the soil temperature by three to four degrees. The fabric also helps plants by blocking harsh winds that are especially prevalent in early springtime. Lots of plants are lost due more to wind chill than to actual cold temperatures.

In addition to the season extending reason, lettuces and other ground hugging plants remain cleaner since rain and irrigation water don't get a chance to splash dirt on the plants.

Bug Repellent

If plants are properly covered, bugs such as the potato and cucumber beetle will have a hard time penetrating through the fabric to get to the plants. I leave the fabric on the plants during the time that bugs are most prevalent. Usually this is a short period of time, two to four weeks. This gives the plants a head start and insures that they are large and thriving by the time the covers comes come off. By that time, the bugs may be mostly gone and since the plants have gotten bigger, they are not as defenseless as when first planted.

I've also used the cover to repel rabbits by wrapping it around the 1st two feet of a bean tepee. This seems to confuse them as to the location of the beans so consequently they leave the plants alone.

Inexpensive

A simple Google search for "Floating Row Cover" turned up a number of sources for the product. For under $20 you can buy enough row cover for at least two Crows Woods 4 feet by 20 feet rows.

Anthony Calabretta, Plot #3
(Edited by Nancy Calabretta)

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