Any gardener can take advantage of floating row covers to extend their seasonal crops for a higher-quality harvest. FRCs are affordable, lightweight, and easy to use.
If you want to try this method on your garden, here is a detailed guide on how to use floating row covers for season extensions.
Kinds Of Floating Row Covers
In terms of weights, floating row covers are categorized into two main kinds:
Heavy-Weight Floating Row Covers
Weigh around 1.5 to 2.2 ounces per square yard.
Lightweight Floating Row Covers
Weigh around 0.5 ounces per square yard.
If covered properly, their frost protection ranges from 2 to 6 degrees F, and light transmittance is from 90% to 95%. In most cases, they’re used as an insect barrier.
Where To Buy Floating Row Covers
Floating row covers are widely found:
- On the internet
- At local garden centers
- Through mail-order seed and garden supply companies
How To Use Floating Row Covers For Season Extensions
Start covering strawberries in the late autumn and keep it through the bloom time.
Although they are a cold-tolerant plant, strawberries will perform better to begin blooming earlier and produce more fruit with extra protection.
Because they aren’t too high, you can just lay in one layer or two floating row covers over them for frost protection.
Secure carefully with soil and stones.
With Pole Bean, Potato, Beet, Swiss Chard, Collard, Kale, And Mustard
These plants might be started from seedling or being transplanted.
During this period of growth, cover them with heavy-weight floating row covers for optimal frost protection as well as transplant shock prevention. Secure with heavy items to avoid cold air getting inside.
Once these crops get taller, it is hard to cover all of them in the old way.
That’s when you should directly hang the row covers over the plants, or if you have time, install a solid frame to lift them up above your garden.
If your crops grow through the summer months, it’s necessary to remove the cover during the day to avoid overheating inside, which might lead to disease issues. Re-cover them in the afternoon and at night.
With Snap Bean, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli, Radish, Asian Greens, Carrot, Radish, Arugula, Spinach, And Lettuce
You can cover these cold-tolerance vegetables from mid-September to Thanksgiving and March to May.
During the autumn, use heavyweight floating row covers, then switch to a lighter one during summer months. Since they don’t grow too high, just cover the whole crop and keep it in place by soil or stones.
It is essential to regularly check the inside temperature and humidity under the covers during hot months, usually from June to August.
Avoid overheating them because these plants will abort if the temperature goes over 90 degrees F.
With salad greens and self-pollinating vegetables, you can cover them from seedling to harvest.
On the contrary, with the insect-pollinated edibles, remember to remove the row covers in the morning to encourage pollination.
If there is little to no pollinator in your area, you should either find a way to attract them to the garden or hand pollinate.
Aside from protecting plants from harsh outdoor weather conditions, floating row covers help save your garden against pests, such as Mexican bean beetles, harlequin bugs, aphids, cabbage worms, and even wild bunnies.
With Lima Bean, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Pumpkin, Cucumber, And Squash
Cover these crops as soon as they are transplanted to prevent transplant shock.
Might you know it or not, transplants need time to gradually introduce from the indoor to the outdoor weather conditions. Any sudden change in temperature or humidity might cause them to grow slowly or even die.
Depending on the season that you grow these crops to choose the right kind of floating row covers.
If it’s during spring and summer, always go for lightweight covers and remove them in the morning for photosynthetic and pollination. Re-cover them back in the afternoon.
If the inner temp rises over 90 degrees F or the humidity level is too high, it might result in disease issues.
Another benefit of floating row covers is to minimize pest damage, such as aphids, squash beetles, squash vine borers, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles.
With Eggplants, Peppers, And Tomatoes
These upright heat-loving plants need a frame before covering them with FRCs or make sure to provide enough room for plants to grow
Similar to other groups of crops, you should cover them carefully after being transplanted. Take the cover off once the plant requires staking or caging to climb over, or when they start blooming.
In this case, floating row covers also eliminate harmful pests, like aphids, Colorado potato beetles, cutworms, and flea beetles.
How To Take Care Of Your Crops When Using Floating Row Covers
Before covering the crops with FRCs, always wrap the soil’s surface with plastic bag or garden wraps to avoid weeds. Otherwise, you should regularly check if weeds grow under the floating row covers.
If detecting any weeds, remove them by hands or a hand shovel, then add a mulch layer on the surface.
With lightweight floating row covers, you can water your crops through them. If using heavy-weight FRCs or a support frame, it’s better to lift them for watering around plants, then re-cover them.
How To Maintain Your Floating Row Covers For The Next Use
The best way to store FRCs when not in use is in containers or plastic bags, then place them in a dry, shady spot. Don’t store them outdoors or humid places, like a garage, barn or shed because mice probably nest in here.
Above is everything about how to use floating row covers for season extensions. Hopefully, this post comes in handy for you to protect your crops better during harsh weather conditions. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!