Floating Row Covers are lightweight blankets made from spunbonded polyester or
polypropylene. there also got another name such as plant cover, plant blanket, Frost blanket, garden fabric, nonwoven fabric.
There are two basic types of Floating Row Covers:
1) frost protection,
2) insect barrier.
If the desire is to protect crops from low temperatures, be sure to purchase the
frost protection type. Floating Row Covers generally come in rolls 6 to 30+ feet wide to nearly
any length desired. Typical lengths range from 50 feet to over 2,000 feet.
Advantages Using Floating Row Covers
1) Frost protection, +2-4 F.
2) Wind protection for plant seedlings.
3) Insect protection.
4) Low cost, 1.8 to 2.7¢/sq. ft.
5) Transmits light (85% average), water, and air.
6) May be reused 2 to 3 years.
Disadvantages Using Floating Row Covers
1) Disposal costs of worn Floating Row Cover material.
2) Weeding under covering requires removal and reinstallation of staples.
3) Installation time required per linear foot of row is significantly higher than unprotected crops.
4) Pollination of crops is prevented unless the Floating
Row Cover is periodically folded back to expose
5) There is some potential for plant abrasion by the
Floating Row Cover on sensitive plants such as
tomato and pepper seedlings
floating row cover is lightweight, easy to store, and inexpensive. And their uses go well beyond frost protection.
Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t up for building a mini hoop house either. In many cases, garden fabric can be draped directly on top of plants and secured around the perimeter. So the effort involved is often minimal.
Keep reading for a short list of all the ways you can use floating row covers in your garden, how to pick the right types for your needs, and some tips to avoid possible pitfalls.
Floating row cover, also known as garden fabric, is a white, thin, light piece of material used to shelter crops for a number of reasons, the most well known being for frost protection.
It’s typically made from polypropylene or polyester and doesn’t absorb moisture. It does, however, allow rainfall and sunlight to pass through. One piece can last multiple seasons, depending on how extensively it’s used each year.
- PROTECT WARM SEASON CROPS AGAINST FROST
I don’t know a single gardener who doesn’t wish for more time every season. Well, garden fabric can actually allow you more time to grow warm season crops.
Garden fabric varies in weight and density. To keep plants protected from frost, you’ll need a heavier weight material that is specifically created to trap heat.
Gardens protected with heavy weight floating row covers are typically 4 to 10°F warmer during freezing temperatures.
For short-term frost protection, all you need to do is loosely lay material over the plants that are at risk, and secure it around the perimeter with rocks or soil.
Knowing you have this option will relieve stress and give you the opportunity to set out heat loving, long season edibles, like tomatoes, bell peppers, and hot peppers, earlier than usual. Peppers especially need warmer temperatures to thrive, so employing garden fabric can really make a difference.
If allowing plants to grow under cover for any length of time, it’s best to build a support structure to increase airflow, allow for plenty of room to grow, and avoid any damage that may be caused to the plants by unsupported fabric beating in the wind.
Also, you’ll want to make sure you use a fabric that still allows plenty of light through.
- PROTECT COOL SEASON CROPS FROM HEAT, OR WARM THEM UP IN WINTER
Row covers also allow you to extend the harvest of cool weather crops such as kale by providing relief from the hot sun.
If you are trying to protect leafy greens like lettuce and spinach from bolting too soon during a fluke warm spell, lightweight row covers may just do the trick.
Ideally they will allow for plenty of air circulation, but still block a good amount of sunlight. Garden fabric is a great option if the weather starts heating up early in the spring, or at the end of summer when starting a fall crop.
Also keep in mind that if you are in a region that is exceptionally hot or cold, garden fabric has the potential to allow you to grow edibles you otherwise couldn’t grow.
You can also use heavyweight row covers through the winter to grow some hard frost tolerant vegetables, like cabbage and kale. This works especially well if winters are usually mild in your area.
- KEEP PESTS OUT
A lightweight floating row cover can change everything if insects, rabbits, or deer often feast on your plants. Look for ones that are marketed for this purpose.
If you will be leaving covers on throughout the season, it’s important to make sure they aren’t heavyweight and meant to trap heat.
Leafy vegetables, root vegetables, and self-pollinating edibles can essentially be grown under the protection of garden fabric from seed to harvest. Bush beans are a great candidate for this.
In order to effectively keep pests out, it’s important to secure material well with staples or soil.
- REDUCE TRANSPLANT SHOCK
Seedlings grown indoors often can’t handle the stress of outdoor weather right away.
So, seedlings are typically hardened off, which means they are slowly introduced to the outdoors before being transplanted into the garden.
Instead of hardening plants off by setting seedlings out for extended periods of time over the course of several days, you could place plants under the protection of a lightweight row cover instead. This will cut the intensity of the weather and give plants a chance to become established.