Using Winter Row Covers

Winter Row covers to the rescue!
I had never heard of "Floating Row Covers" before researching them last year.  I can officially say after a year of using them in our garden that I highly recommend their use.  

First "Floating Row Covers" are simply a special type of fabric that you use to cover your plants.  I say special because this fabric still allows light, water and air for your plants to grow.  There are several different types of fabric you can purchase.  This year we bought 2 different types: 
Current Garden picture (Sept 2013)

The first is  Garden Quilt Cover Fabric which allowed us to extend our growing season in Spring and we are currently using it this Fall. (This fabric protects down to 24 degrees F with 60% light transmission).

The second is Summerweight Garden Fabric this fabric protected our plants from pests in the spring and early summer.  The plants were able to grow and mature and then we removed the covers when they started flowering.  (This fabric transmits 85% light to plants with frost protection to 28 degress F).

Left Beneficial Flower Bed cleaned out for the winter 

This allowed us the most flexibility and we were able to use them as needed.  The Garden Quilt fabric protected the plants from the cold in the Spring and now I am using them this Fall.  The Summerweight Fabric protected the plants from insect damage without the use of pesticides (one of our organic gardening techniques).  It is important to note that you need to remove the row covers for plants that require pollination by bees. 
 Summer Squash growing!
BED #3 Squash plants still going strong!

I have started the process of cleaning out my flower beds.  A couple of weeks ago (in an earlier post) I cleaned out the front flower bed.  This week I cut down all the Asparagus ferns before the frost.  I was about to clean out Bed #3 (Summer Squash) and Bed #4 (Eggplant & Peppers) but I realized they weren't finished yet!  I didn't have the heart to pull them up when they were still producing fruit.  

BED #4- Peppers & Eggplant

(2) Purple Carnival Peppers
The challenge came when there were warnings of the  temperatures dropping last week to the low 70's during the day and colder at night.  Eggplant and Peppers are warm weather plants and I knew this could really ruin their chances of survival.  The Eggplant had just produced the first 3 fruit of the entire summer and there were at least 10 more forming on the plants.  The Peppers were also in the same situation.   Maybe I was desperate but I really wanted them to make it through the cold temperatures. 

 Small Eggplant
Eggplant almost ready to pick
The solution was to get out the Winter Row Cover Fabric.  I went searching for it in the garage and brought it out with the PVC pipe.  (See earlier post: Making Floating Row Covers posted on May 1, 2013 for more details on making row covers and their use).  Then I covered Bed #1, #3 and #4.  Now I could sleep at night knowing that the plants were protected from the cold weather. 

The funny thing is that the weather is now supposed to be in the 80's this upcoming week!  At least the plants were protected this week.  Hopefully I will have more Eggplant and Peppers before this season ends!

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