Prepare Mag: August 2018 - page 24

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light through so if you want to grow shade plants or cool
weather crops in the heat of summer you can choose one
that allows less light to penetrate it. They are available in
different thicknesses and weights as well so a bit of research
on your part is important.
The thickness of the row cover fabric is measured by weight
per square yard. That may seem a bit confusing to you, so
here is a better breakdown. Row covers can weigh
anywhere from half an ounce per square yard for a
lightweight one to two ounces per square yard for a heavier
one.
The heavier the row cover, the more frost protection it
offers. Light weight row covers are used more for seedlings
and young plants that need insect protection or maybe light
frost protection.
They are lightweight enough that they can sit right on top of
the plants, however it is advised that you use hoops to
suspend the frost cover above your plants. Hoops can be
made out of plastic conduit, metal coat hangers or any
other material that will make a half circle. Simply stick one
end in the ground and bend it over so the next end goes in
on the other side of the plant or row you want to protect
and then put your frost cover on top securing it on the
ground with any weighted object such as sandbags, rocks,
bricks or landscape pegs. What works well in your garden
may not work so well in someone else’s garden, especially if
the climates are different.
Spun-bonded or woven covers do not build up as much heat
as polyethylene plastic materials do, and of course, clear
materials are much better at gathering heat than white or
colored row covers. When choosing the type of row cover
you will use, think about the time of year you will use it and
what you intend to grow under it. If you are growing in the
dead of winter, you will want to choose a material that lets
the maximum amount of light in and also builds up and
retains lots of heat. In the heat of summer you may not
need as much light or as much heat buildup.
Cloches
Some gardeners prefer to use cloches instead of row covers.
Cloches are essentially mini cold frames which are glass or
plastic covers made to sit over plants or protect pots of
plants from frost or cold weather. Most cloches are made
out of glass or plastic. These small bell shaped glass covers
were popular during the Victorian Era.
Gardeners could use them to get a head start on the
growing season. The glass would not only heat up the soil,
but it would protect the tender plants from frost. In
addition, cloches were used, and sometimes still are used,
to protect small seedlings from pests such as slugs and
snails.
Cloches still play an important role in year round gardening.
If you have a special plant you want to protect, simply place
the cloche over it. They are also helpful in the vegetable
garden. Put heat loving seedlings such as melons under
them and see how fast they grow. Remember that cloches
will need ventilating on warm days just like cold frames.
Cloches are easy to ventilate. If it is warm enough, simply
remove the cloche from the plant, if not, sit a couple of
bricks or pieces of wood under the edges of the cloche so
the cool air can enter and the warm air can escape.
Today’s gardeners often make their own cloches from milk
jugs and pop bottles – and they work! Make sure your
containers are clean so they do not attract a variety of
unwanted pests. Begin by cutting off the bottom of your
container. You want to leave the end with the lid on so you
can use the lid to vent your cloche. You can drill a few small
holes in the top of your cloche if you prefer, but remember
that any opening will allow frost to get to your plants.
When your cloche is ready to go into the ground, simply dig
it in a little bit. If you are gardening in a windy area you may
need to cross tie it so it does not blow away. The easiest
way to do this is tie two or three strings around the neck of
the cloche and secure them to the ground with landscape
pegs.
There is no reason why the unheated greenhouse cannot be
enjoyed during the winter. If you choose your plants
carefully you can have both flowers and vegetables year
round. Semi-hardy bulbs can be planted in containers
sooner so when it is time to move them outside your plants
already have a head start on the growing season.
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