Why Use Row Covers for Vegetables?
For years I’ve wanted a cold frame or some other covering so I could start lettuce and spinach earlier in the year. This year, I finally did it! I designed and built this row cover, sometimes also referred to as a low tunnel, so I could start lettuce in March.
The advantage to building a low tunnel versus something like a cold frame is that a low tunnel does not need to be vented when temps rise. The Agribon-19 is breathable and allows plenty of airflow. It provides only a few degrees of insulation, to prevent frost damage to tender plants in moderate winter weather.
If you cover the tunnel with plastic rather than Agribon-19, or a heavier Agribon product, you can potentially grow year round! However, this will likely require winter irrigation as rain will be unable to get to your covered winter crops.
Row Cover Supplies
- Tape measure
- 2 2-foot rebar pieces for each hoop
- 6+ feet ¾"schedule 40 conduit length to suit desired height of hoop
- 1 piece Agribon-19 enough to cover
- 2-3 snap clamps per hoop
- First, use the hammer to drive rebar pieces into the ground on either side of your bed, spaced about 2’ apart. In the video below I used 6 pieces, 3 on each side of the bed.
- Then, slip one end of the ¾” pipe over the rebar, bend the pipe and carefully slip the other end over the rebar opposite the first.
- Repeat for as many hoops as desired.
- Plant starts or sow seeds into the soil under the hoops.
- Cut Agribon-19 to length for your bed and secure with the snap clamps.
These row covers are an inexpensive way to extend your growing season. In the video below, I walk you through the process step by step. They are easily customizable to your bed size, the crop your growing, and more. Growing lettuce? Cut a couple feet off the pipe so you have a lower cover. Have a wider bed? Your cover will be lower with the 10′ pipe, or you can try to get longer pipe for a taller tunnel. There are so many possibilities when using row covers for the vegetable garden.