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Row Cover: Friend or Foe?

Farming can be an excellent way to practice patience, flexibility and laughing at well...everything. What do I mean by this cryptic statement? Let me paint a picture for you...

You spend hours a day and days a week and weeks out of a month growing your little seedlings to an adequate size and vigor until they are finally ready to be hardened off to the elements and then, finally, planted in the field. It's not over yet though, now you must ensure that these beautiful tiny plants grow up healthy, strong and mostly aesthetically unscathed. This can sometimes prove more difficult than others. For instance, we recently launched our 2017 planting season: it has been a bit of a battle ever since then. We've had to confront some very hungry and prolific rabbits, strong winds with gusts upwards of 30 mph and even a freeze advisory. How did we manage to get through it all? Row cover.

Row cover is an incredible light weight opaque fabric that can be draped over your beds of plants after placing galvanized steel wire hoops every 4 feet or so. You then need to secure the cover with some sort of weight. There are many possibilities and we've used three so far---large rocks, soil and sandbags.

Sandbags are by far the most effective method. Unfortunately, we ran out of them and because we are in full swing into the planting season, we chose to prioritize using resources we already have, dirt and rocks. Boy do we have a lot of those particular resources! Double unfortunate, is that mother nature decided that these weren't going to deter her from blowing off the row cover or the rabbits from devouring the crops.

So we are back full circle to using sandbags. We have had 3 yards of sand and about 230 sandbags delivered to the farm. Before the freeze advisory really set in, we filled all the sandbags and reinforced every row cover we have. It seems to be holding strong thus far and the plants seem, mostly, happy with their environment.

So, while row cover can be a bit tricky, it is definitely worth the investment for protection of your plants! Have you used row cover before in your home garden or had experience with it at a farm? We would love to hear about it.

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