Row covers can protect spring plants from frost, cool temps
When the temperatures warm up as spring approaches, gardeners look forward to planting fruits and vegetables. But those who live in an area where the weather changes quickly – from summer to winter in a day – sowing seeds early can become costly, especially if an unexpected frost kills young plants.
One way to offset potential damage is to use row covers. Some gardeners use floating row covers or loose covers made from lightweight material found at online or local retail garden centers.
Floating row covers can be draped over plants and held in place with spikes, bricks or rocks. The covers allow sunlight to penetrate and air to circulate through to the plants, but they also keep the temperatures warmer and the frost off.
Gardeners also may want to try plastic row covers that pop out like an accordion with metal wires about every two feet for anchoring. This type of row cover, resembling a small tunnel, helps protect young spring plants from cool temperatures and frost.
With the plastic tunnel cover, the gardener will need to check the inside temperature to assure the plants don’t become too warm. Most tunnel covers allow for air circulation by lifting the draping covers at the ends. These drapes can be lowered at night or when the temperatures drop. Aside from protection, tunnel covers, too, allow for much earlier planting.
Whichever type of row cover used, gardeners will find the covers typically last for several seasons and also protect plants from pests.