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Use Row Covers to Extend Your Harvest

November 13, 2013

Your vegetable garden can be just as plentiful in November as it is in May, with some careful selection of crops, seed starting, and preparation against the weather. Cold winds can be even more damaging than low temperatures, so protecting your plants against the wind can extend your growing season. A row cover can protect your fall crops and keep you harvesting fresh greens and vegetables long into the winter.

 

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Start cold-season crops from seed in late summer, amend the beds with compost, and transplant your crops before heavy frosts begin. This will give the young plants a chance to get established before the winter freeze.

A row cover will further protect your seedlings from the winter chill. These are more heavy-duty than the floating row covers that can protect your plants against pests in the spring and summer. A row cover is essentially a temporary greenhouse, just high enough to cover the mature crops. Kits are available for purchase online or in stores, or you can assemble the materials yourself. The row cover will consist of clear plastic sheeting to protect against the wind and a framework to anchor the plastic and hold it above the plants. The framework is often made of plastic or heavy wire in a series of half-hoops, forming a tunnel over the plants.

The row cover should be secured against the wind, but removable for watering and harvesting. One method is to weigh down the edges of the plastic with bricks or stones. You can also attach one edge more permanently by lining the edge of the plastic with duct tape and driving sod staples through it into the ground.

With some trial and error, you can lengthen the growing season for your garden and harvest fresh greens even after local produce has gone out of season.

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