Gardening With Row Covers

Protect your plants from drought, wind, pests, and more using row covers for your garden.

| April 2018

  • Row covers are the most affordable and versatile way to protect plants from pests, sun, and wind in the desert.
    Photo courtesy of Sasquatch Books
  • “Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert and Dry Times” by Maureen Gilmer includes a list of vegetable best suited for desert gardens and droughts.
    Photo courtesy of Sasquatch Books

Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert and Dry Times (Sasquatch Books, 2015) by Maureen Gilmer proves that even in times of drought, or in the middle of the desert, gardeners can still help their plants thrive. Gilmer’s guide focuses on four different low-water conditions across the United States; water conservation, drought, high deserts, and low deserts. In the following excerpt, she explains how using row covers can improve your garden.

When you create a tunnel-like greenhouse over your garden rows, you use a row cover. Row covers have so many benefits that once you start using them you’ll wonder how you ever gardened without them. Here is how a row cover can solve many food-garden problems:

• It can protect plants from cold damage. Use it to start seedlings in the garden while nights are still frosty, or to help mature plants live outdoors through the winter for year-round vegetables.

• It can shelter plants from high-UV sun damage in the desert.

• It can help conserve water. When you water a plant under a row cover, moisture in the soil gradually evaporates into the air. When there’s a row cover present, the rising moisture lingers to humidify the air immediately around the plants, mitigating effects of low-humidity conditions and evaporative water loss.

• It protects against dry wind. Young vegetables are susceptible to desiccation from dry winds, and sensitive older plants are too. A row cover eliminates the need to create a windbreak for the whole garden by providing temporary or permanent smaller scale applications.

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