The Benefits of Using Row Covers in the Garden

If you want to enjoy vegetables from your garden throughout the year, one of the most economical ways of doing so is by using row covers. Easy to use and very effective, you don’t want to be without them!

  • “The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener” shows how to make every month a vegetable-gardening month. It includes in-depth instruction for selecting the best varieties for each season, mastering the art of succession planting, and maximizing the use of space throughout the year to increase food production.
    Cover Courtesy Storey Publishing
  • This bed of super-sweet ‘Napoli’ carrots is ready for old man winter. The soil was topped with a foot of shredded leaves and then covered with a row cover, which was secured by rocks and fabric staples.
    Image Courtesy Storey Publishing
  • Lightweight row covers are great for excluding insects and other garden pests; medium and heavyweight covers will protect plants from frost.
    Image Courtesy Storey Publishing

In The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener (Storey Publishing, 2011), author Niki Jabbour shows how you can enjoy fresh-from-the-garden veggies even in the dead of winter using simple, cost-effective techniques. In this excerpt from Chapter 3, Jabbour expounds on the wonders of row covers: Made of semitransparent fabric available in a variety of weights, row covers exclude insect pests, protect seeds and seedlings, and insulate against frost and winter weather.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.

A row cover is simply a piece of lightweight, semitransparent fabric that is most often constructed from spun-bonded polypropylene or polyester. In spring and fall, it’s used to protect crops that are tender from frost. During the summer, it can be used to protect crops from a variety of threats including insects, birds, and other animals that like to munch on newly planted seeds or seedlings.

Even though row covers are able to keep out so many things, they do allow water, air, and light to pass through to your plants. Because of this, you can leave some of the lightest-weight covers in the garden for an extended length of time, as long as there is enough excess material to allow for plant growth.

Using Row Covers

Easy to use, economical, and incredibly effective, row covers are an essential tool for the nonstop garden. They are also multifunctional, having a wide variety of uses throughout the year; you’ll find yourself relying on them time and time again for the following tasks.

To Exclude Insect Pests

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