If you’ve ever experienced the loss of garden plants due to frost damage, you know how devastating it is. Even a single night of freezing temperatures can cause significant damage. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your garden plants from frost, and one of the most effective methods is using row covers.
Effects of Frost on Plants
Frost can have several negative effects on plants, including:
- Freezing of plant tissues: When frost forms on the surface of plants, it can freeze their tissues, causing them to rupture and die.
- Dehydration: Frost can also cause water to evaporate from the leaves and stems of plants, leading to dehydration and wilting. Frost damage is often characterized by dry, brown patches on the external leaves of plants, that will not recover.
- Stunted growth: Plants that are exposed to frost for prolonged periods can experience stunted growth and reduced yields. In extreme cases, if the growing season is still ahead, it may be more beneficial to start a new crop.
Benefits of Row Covers
Row covers can help extend your growing season by protecting plants from early or late frosts. This can give you a longer period to grow and harvest crops, which is especially useful in cooler climates.
Seeds can be started outdoors sooner in the spring with the protection of row covers. Seedlings can also get a jump start outdoors when under the protection of a row cover.
Likewise, vegetables grown into the fall and winter can be given additional protection against frost when row covers are used. By using row covers, you can prevent frost from forming on your plants and protect them from damage.
Row covers can also help protect plants from pests and other environmental factors. Heavy spring rains and wind can damage young plants. Protecting with row covers ensures a better chance your plants will get off to a good start and provide optimal harvest.
How Row Covers For Frost Protection Work
Row covers work by creating a barrier between your plants and the outside environment. They are typically made from lightweight permeable fabrics, allowing air, water, and sunlight to pass through while protecting your plants.
When installed properly, row covers can help trap heat and moisture around your plants, creating a microclimate that is warmer and more humid than the surrounding environment. This can help protect your plants from frost and other environmental factors, while also promoting healthy growth.
Choosing the Right Cover
How many degrees of protection your cover provides is important to know for the proper protection of your crops.
In the specifications for the cover you are considering, look for the temperature protection rating. Some manufacturers will specify a temperature range, some will specify a low temperature protection. Make sure the cover has a sufficient rating to protect your plants from exposure.
DeWitt’s 1.5 oz N-Sulate is a medium-weight row cover that specifies the temperature underneath the fabric is up to 6-8 degrees F warmer than outside conditions.
DeWitt’s 1.5 oz. N-Sulate™ is a medium weight, permeable, UV treated fabric designed to protect gardens’ flowering annuals, bedding plants and vegetables from freezing temperatures. This fabric installs easily and is reusable. N-Sulate™ can lengthen your harvest period and extend your flowering season.
- Weight – 1.5 ounces per square yard
- Thickness – 11.5 mil
- Temperature underneath fabric is up to 6-8 degrees F. warmer than outside conditions
- Tensile Strength (lbs) – MD 35.9 / CD 27.1
- Elongation (%) – MD 120 / CD 135
- Trapezoid Tear – MD 10.8 / CD 7.6
- Air Permeability – 420 cubic sft/min
- Burst Strength – 61 psi
- Color – White
Frost cover for winter protection may require a thicker cover to keep plants warm. A thicker cover also provides protection from the sun for sensitive plants.
For spring protection, a lighter material may be sufficient for temperatures. Lighter materials also allow more sunlight to reach the plants.Shop for Home and Garden Products
How to Install Row Covers for Frost Protection
Installing row covers is an easy process. It’s easier if you choose to do it on a day that is not windy.
This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI_BNPqyv4E shows a popular method using hoops to turn the row cover into a tunnel over the plants. This is a successful method used by many gardeners for frost protection, insect control or sun protection. Adjust the hoop height to that which makes the most sense for the size of your plants.With over 215 reviews! Click here to see why customers can’t get enough of our 6.5x300ft Woven Weed Barrier Landscape Cover Vegetable 300ft Ground Cover 3.0oz
Steps For Installing Row Cover
- Use rebar and PVC pipe. Push rebar securely into the ground on either side of the plants. Insert a cut section of PVC pipe over each rebar to create the hoop.
- Pull the row cover over the hoops and center, leaving enough extra on the sides and ends to assure the row is covered all the way to the ground. Cut the row cover if necessary.
- Secure the row cover to the hoops with PVC clips or sections of hose slit down the length.
- Secure the edges of the cover that are at the ground by covering them with pavers, bricks, stones or pieces of lumber. [remember these will have to be removed at times for ventilation and watering].
Tips for Using Row Covers for Frost Protection
While row covers are designed to protect plants from frost, they can also cause the temperature inside the cover to rise too high, which can damage your plants. To avoid overheating, be sure to remove row covers during the day when temperatures rise above freezing. This will allow air to circulate and prevent the temperature inside the row cover from getting too high..
Secure The Cover
If the cover is not properly secured along the bottom edge and the hoops, it can easily be blown away by wind or damaged by heavy rain. Make sure that the cover is securely anchored to the ground and that there are no gaps where cold air can enter. Inspect after inclement weather to assure the cover is still secure at all areas.
Using row covers for frost protection is a simple and effective method that many gardeners have successfully used. By following the tips and techniques outlined here, you can protect your plants from frost and enjoy a bountiful harvest.