Kitchen Gardening

Floating Row Cover and Grow Tunnels Extend the Growing Season

Although summer has gone and fall is here, it does not mean the end of the growing season.

  • A box arrived from Agfabric with a 7-foot-wide roll of floating row cover and fiberglass rods--spurring a fall garden. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • A garden row needed to be cleared of summer plants and weeds.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Aged manure and other amendments are sprinkled over the old layer of straw mulch.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Ready for tilling.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Freshly tilled garden earth was left to sit for a few days before planting.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Since the rods will only bend so much, the recommended distance was 33-to 50-inches for inserting the rods, for 7-foot rods and 7-foot- wide grow cover.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Bent hoops were placed at both ends of row and line strung down the rows so I could see where to place the plants. Then I dug holes and placed the plants where I wanted them.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Fortunately, there was a good rain that watered in the transplants. Here, the rods are being placed on the right of the photo.
    Photo/Illustration: Tomaso
  • Here the fiberglass rods are bent over so that they are now hoops for the just-planted and well-watered garden bed.
    Photo/Illustration: Tomaso
  • The roll of row cover was unrolled, measured and cut to fit the 50-foot row. Then it was unrolled and laid out so it was easy to pull over the hoops.
    Photo/Illustration: Tomaso
  • Here is the row cover stretched over the hoops to create a 50-foot long grow tunnel.
    Photo/Illustration: Tomaso
  • View from the inside of the grow tunnel--happy transplants will be protected from cold weather, deer, rabbits and insects.
    Photo/Illustration: Tomaso

Although summer has gone and fall is here, it does not mean the end of the growing season. By using floating row cover or a grow tunnel covered with it–you can enjoy cool weather crop until the weather freezes–and some of the hardy ones might even last through the winter.

Recently, I received a big box from AgFabric , containing a 7-foot-wide roll of floating row cover and fiberglass rods for making a grow tunnel. This will allow me to garden through the fall and into the winter in my zone 7 garden; some lettuces might go with a freeze, however kale and brassicas should last throughout the cold weather. Row cover comes in rolls of various weights as well as widths and lengths. https://www.agfabric.com/ Besides allowing a longer growing season, using row cover will keep the browsing deer, rabbits and insects from eating the garden.

The arrival of the tunnel, caused a flurry of garden activity at the end of the growing season… clearing off a row where dead or dying plants had been, pulling out weeds, adding amendments, tilling a new row, laying out and planting a row to fit in the dimensions of the tunnel, assembling the tunnel by bending the rods and then covering the rods with the floating row cover.

Logically, I planted the tallest plants down the center of the row and lower-growing greens down the sides. It is very important to water in the new plants before covering the plants with the row covering. Fortunately, Mother Nature cooperated and rained a gentle rain all night long after transplanting all of the plants. we waited a day to cover the tunnel to let the garden dry out just a bit.

Now all there is to do is wait for our harvest of cold-weather crops!

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