20. October 2018

Protect your crops with plant cover

As you might know by now, I'm a firm believer in growing vegetables all year long. Using plant cover is one great way to make the growing season outside just a little bit longer. This is how I use it.

Sallat under fiberduk i pallkrage. Lettuce underneath my plant cover in a pallet collar bed.

I put the plant cover straight on top of my plants.

 

The plant cover is a thin fabric that you drape over plants to protect them against for example wind, chilly temperatures, snow and insects. You can also use it to keep the heat in the soil when it's cold outside. You can buy this fabric in a regular garden shop, either in rolls or folded pieces that you can cut to size.

This fabric is not the most durable, unless you find special products online. I buy most of my things in regular garden shops and I feel happy with the products I have tried so far. I keep my plant cover outside for limited periods of time during fall and spring. It stays in my polytunnel for most of the winter too, so the fabric usually last for about two seasons.

Covering your plants might seem like a small thing, but it can actually make a huge difference. For example for the lettuce I grow in fall. I live in zone 3 and I estimate that the light we get here this time of the year is enough to have the plants grow until the first weeks of November. But in order for that to work, I need to pamper my plants and make sure that they are just a little bit warmer than the air usually is. Covering the plants with one or two layers of this fabric is the perfect solution.

 

Read more about protecting your crops here: Building a cold frame lid.

 

I'm growing the lettuce variety Little Gem in this pallet collar bed. This is one of my favorite lettuce varieties. As you can see in the picture below, I decided to put the plant cover straight on top of the plants without building some kind of structure that the fabric could rest on. You could of course do it this way too. I think it's better with less space between the plants and the fabric though. Almost all of the vegetables I grow this time of year are very hardy. It doesn't really matter if they were to freeze and get stuck to the fabric.

 

Sallat under fiberduk i pallkrage

I have plenty of Little Gem lettuce in this pallet collar. I hope they will grow a bit larger in the coming weeks.

 

En pallkrage täckt med kompostgaller och fiberduk. A pallet collar bed with mesh wire panels and plant cover.

All you need is a mesh wire panel to keep the fabric in place. Using a plant cover will make a huge difference for the lettuce.

 

Not too late for plant cover

If you have low-growing plants in your bed, all you need to do is to put a mesh wire panel on top so that the fabric stays put. If the plants reach over the pallet collar though, then you might need to think of some other solution. I put two panels leaning against each other in this pallet collar bed.

 

Watch this video on how to overwinter lettuce, that way you will have fresh lettuce all year round: Overwintering lettuce in poly tunnel/hoop house

 

It's not too late to start using plant cover to protect your plants. I have lettuce, radishes, arugula, beets (grown for their greens) and spinach in my garden still. They could all use a layer of fabric on top to stay fresh for a few more weeks. Buy some plant cover and experiment at home, it might just do the trick!
/Sara Bäckmo

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