If you’re trying to grow your own food, a greenhouse can be a big help. But if you’re not lucky enough to own one, floating row covers are a great option for providing some of the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.
Floating row covers take a minimal amount of work to use, and they will have a fabulous effect on your food growing efforts. Even if you do own a greenhouse, your tender young plants will eventually have to make the move outside. Floating row covers are a great way to continue giving your plants some of the protection they enjoyed inside.
Interested? Read on to discover what floating row covers are, and why you should consider adding them to your gardening toolkit.
What Are Floating Row Covers?
Think of floating row covers as a “greenhouse in a sheet of fabric.” Simply put, floating row covers are sheets of a special kind of fabric that is a gardener’s dream-come-true. They allow essential water and sunlight to reach the plants, but provide protection against unseasonable temperatures and pests. Many gardeners install floating row covers by laying them directly on top of seed beds or young plants. The plants lift the row covers as they grow, hence the term “floating.”
Floating Row Covers for Frost Protection and Seed Germination
Of course, floating row covers don’t work as well as an actual greenhouse. However their benefits are similar, just to a lesser degree. In much of the U.S., frost protection is a primary benefit of floating row covers. When spread over plants, row covers raise the temperature of the soil by several degrees. Of course, they won’t protect your plants from a very harsh winter. However, if you’re faced with an unexpected cold snap after setting out your garden, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your row covers will give your plants an extra layer of protection against the worst of the cold. They might just save your crops.
Floating row covers can do more than prevent a frosty disaster.
By keeping the soil slightly warmer, they can lead to generally better results. Higher soil temperatures in the spring usually lead to quicker seed germination. This faster germination results in an earlier harvest and greater yields.
Floating Row Covers in a Warm Climate
For gardeners in the San Francisco Bay Area, cold weather is not a major concern for most of the year. However, floating row covers have benefits for those in warm climates too. They improve the efficiency of water absorption in your garden. They can help to protect cool weather crops from a fluke hot spell.
We mentioned that row covers are light enough to allow rain and water to reach the plants underneath them. That means you can water your plants without removing the covers every time. However, floating row covers don’t just ALLOW you to water your plants, they actually IMPROVE the ability of water and rain reach your vegetables. By slowing down the water, they allow it to penetrate to the plants more slowly and uniformly. Moisture stays in the soil longer under row covers. In addition, row covers can prevent heavy rain from causing soil erosion.
Any gardener with a few years’ experience knows to dread a short spell of 80 degree days in the spring. This summery weather can wreak havoc on cool weather lettuces. It can cause them to “bolt,” or turn to flower, spoiling the flavor of the leaves. Just as they can protect your plants from a freak cold spell, floating row covers can also minimize the damage of unseasonable heat. By slightly reducing the amount of sunlight that gets through to your lettuces, floating row covers can keep them producing through an unexpected warm spell.
Floating Row Covers as Environmentally Responsible Pest Control
There’s nothing more disappointing than raising beautiful kale only to see it eaten by bugs before you have a chance to harvest it yourself. But the environmentally conscious (or health conscious) gardener will shrink from using chemical pesticides to combat this problem. Enter floating row covers! Row covers are a straightforward solution to the bug problem . They keep bugs off your plants simply by acting as a physical barrier between insects and your garden.
Floating row covers are just fabric, and they might be too flimsy to keep out an exceptionally determined deer or rabbit. However, by covering up your crops, they act as a deterrent for these larger garden nuisances as well.
Have more specific questions about using floating row covers in your garden? Or need some more solutions for growing a flourishing garden in an environmentally responsible way? Homescape Now can help. We are a professional landscaping company serving the San Francisco Bay Area. We specialize in taking care of the environment while taking care of your yard. Contact us today to how much of a difference expert help can make in your garden.