Frost Protection - Row Covers to the Rescue!
As the regions across the US move into autumn, those daylight hours grow shorter and the frost date starts its yearly approach. Here on the farm, we are in zone 6b and our frost date is only a few weeks away! More and more growers are focusing on season extension and wish to provide a diverse crop offering for their winter markets, CSAs, to their local restaurants and customers. An essential part of making season extension possible is finding the right frost protection for their growing operation.
There are a few ways growers have found that extend their seasons and keep the early frosts at bay. The first consideration is to grow crops that are cold/frost hardy. With more seed producers and breeders the options have diversified and increased. Farmers can now choose from many more cold hardy varieties of crops so that their customers are not stuck just eating kale all winter. Next up is the tried and true method of using high tunnels and low tunnels to provide additional protection from the elements and create a microclimate that can support more variety than what can be grown out in the field. And ultimately we have the easy to use and go-to solution for frost protection! Floating row covers also known as reemay!
(photo courtesy of Kat the Farmer)
When it comes to row covers you have lots of different options depending on what you want to do, they come in a variety of widths and lengths to fit most bed sizes. Typically each bed will get its own individual row cover supported by hoops and the edges weighted down with rock bags or other weights. But depending on how you have your crops planned you may have similar crops planted next to each other, this is where a row cover that can span multiple beds can come in handy. Individual bed row covers work great when you have different crops with different temperature/light needs or sensitivities.
(photos courtesy of Kat the Farmer)
The way most row covers are graded is based on the weight of the material which also determines the density and how much light is able to come through. Here is a quick reference guide that includes some of the different weights that we offer!
We stock 4 different weights that can help keep your crops protected and happy when the colder temps arrive. We carry Pro 19, Pro 25, Pro 34 and Pro 42 weight row fabrics as well as the row cover supports you’ll need to set up your beds!
(photo courtesy of Golden Foot Flower Farm)
Our row cover supports (fiber rods) are easy to use, lightweight and the perfect length to work with 4ft growing beds.
As you consider your season extension plan for this fall/winter consider adding the extra protection that row covers can provide for your season!