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How To Build: ROW COVER

  1. The easiest way to start your garden earlier in spring and extend your growing season later into fall is to cover your crops with a fabric row cover. This durable fabric lets air, light and moisture in.

    Depending on the thickness of the fabric, row covers keep the air around plants four to eight degrees F warmer than the ambient temperature. Row covers also allow gardeners to control pests without chemicals because the cover forms a physical barrier between plants and pests.

    Many gardeners just lay a row cover directly on top of crops, but building a simple frame for a row cover keeps your garden looking neat and tidy.

    Things You Will Need:
    Several 18 inch rebar stakes
    72-inch-wide row cover fabric
    1/2-inch flexible plastic tubing
    Extra-large binder clips
    Landscape fabric pins or bricks

  2. Place 18-inch-long rebar stakes in each corner of your vegetable bed and every 24 to 36 inches along the sides. For example, a four-foot-long bed will have three sets of stakes, one set on either end of the bed and one in the middle. Using a mallet or hammer, drive the stakes into the ground until only 8 to 10 inches of the stake remains above the soil line.

  3. Arch pieces of 1/2 inch flexible plastic tubing over the bed to create the row cover frame. You want the apex of each arch to be about 18 inches above your plants. Cut the tubing into four to six foot lengths, depending on the width of your bed and the height of your plants.

  4. Starting at one end of the garden bed, slide a piece of the tubing over a rebar stake. Arch the tubing across the bed, placing the other end of the tubing onto the stake on the opposite side of the bed.

  5. Use a six-foot-wide piece of row cover material for garden beds that are three to five feet wide. If your garden bed is less than three feet across, you can use a row cover with a smaller width. Cut the fabric to the length of the bed plus four feet. Cutting extra material allows you to create a "tent" that completely encloses the frame, including the ends.

  6. Drape the fabric over the frame. Secure all of the edges by pinning them into place with landscape fabric pins or rolling the extra material around bricks. Make sure the edges are tightly secured to prevent insect pests from entering. You can also clip a large binder clip in the middle of each arch to hold the fabric in place.