The use of Floating Row Covers is a great organic gardening technique for protecting vegetable plants from harmful insect pests.
Floating Row Covers can also be used to guard against frost damage and deter animals from eating young seedlings and vegetable transplants.
Organic Pest Control With Floating Row Covers
Floating row covers are a lightweight, almost transparent, spun fiber material that can be spread like a blanket over entire raised beds and rows of growing plants.
The primary purpose for using floating row covers is to create a barrier that protects corps from insect damage. While sunlight and rain pass right through the fleecy material, insects are unable to penetrate the fabric to reach the vegetable plants sheltered beneath.
Row covers are particularly effective at controlling squash bugs and other troublesome pests that are resistant to organic or chemical pesticides. In the case of squash plants, the row covers are placed over the entire row or bed just after planting and remain in place until the female blossoms are ready to be pollinated.
Using Floating Row Covers in the Garden
Because the floating row covers are so lightweight they can be draped over crops, even young seedlings without causing any damage to the plants. The row covers actually “float” over the vegetation and lift up as the plants mature and grow taller, leaving insect pests on the outside looking in and unable to reach your vegetable crops.
Secure the edges of the fabric with rocks, soil, or earth staples to keep it anchored. You can use a sprinkler or hose to water right through the row covers without removing them.
In some applications, such as when planting root crops or leafy greens, the floating row covers can be left in place as long as you desire. More often, you’ll need to remove the row covers when the crops begin flowering to allow beneficial insects to pollinate the flowers.
Frost Protection and Other Uses
When used in early spring and during the fall season, row covers will provide a few degrees of frost protection by insulating and trapping the warmer air rising up from the ground.
Floating row covers can also be used to hide plants from hungry animals. The rabbits that visit my garden love to eat tender beet and bean seedlings and will nibble them right down to the ground. My solution is to shield these crops with row covers for a few weeks until the plants are older and not as attractive to the rabbits.
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