Thursday, February 22, 2018

Floating Row Covers Provide Frost Protection

It Will be Frosty Tonight


I'm so glad we found my floating row covers while we were decluttering the garage today. I've been covering plants in danger with old tee shirts for the past three nights in desperation. I've been most concerned about some root divisions of Jupiter's Beard I received just before the frosty nights started. I put some in a big  bowl of water and the little individual plants in a large pot because I didn't have any beds prepared for them yet.

Floating Row Covers Provide Frost Protection


 Floating Row Covers to the Rescue


Although I've covered the Jupiter's Beard with shirts at night, they don't look happy. It's also been a pain to cover them because I like to sleep late and my plants need the sun as soon as possible, whether I'm up or not. I'm delighted that I found my floating row covers that let the heat and light through and raise the temperature under what they cover. If it rains, they will also let the water through. Best of all, I can sleep in without worrying about uncovering my plants.

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I spread them over the bed with the potted Jupiter's Beard (Red Valerian) just before dark tonight. I weighed them down with anything heavy I had handy, including a small statue, a flower pot, and a heavy can I was about to throw out. I used clothespins to pin them to the shrubs and pot edges where handy. I won't have to get up early to remove the cover since it can stay on all day and night during this cold spell.


Floating Row Covers Provide Frost Protection
Floating Row Covers Protecting Plants, © B. Radisavljevic



These covers have worked for me over my raised beds in Templeton for years, but this is the first time I've used them here in Paso Robles. I like that you can choose a weight that is appropriate for the lowest temperature you expect to encounter. Since the daytime temperatures are also lower than usual, it's OK for me to leave the covers on day and night until it's warmer. I left these blooming daffodils out to look pretty, since they don't mind the cold.


I am hoping the floating row covers do the trick as they have in the past since I've weighted them down so they won't blow away. But one thing does worry me. See the neighbor kitty? He's doing more than supervising. He was also scratching around the back corner, now behind him. If he gets too curious, he could tear the edges or dislodge the weights. I wasn't counting on his presence. Fortunately the plants I most want to protect are in the middle and least likely to be uncovered.

Floating Row Covers Provide Frost Protection
Cat Supervising Placement of Floating Row Covers Protecting Plants, © B. Radisavljevic

Since I wasn't expecting to find these today, I didn't have my usual weights with me that I use in Templeton -- the abundant large rocks found all over that property. Gravel doesn't really do the trick.

When I still lived in Templeton, these floating row covers also helped me extend my growing season for my tomatoes so they could survive early frosts. See My Tomatoes Were Hit by a Late Frost in April. Remember that these covers come in different weights appropriate for different low temperatures. Be sure to pick the one that's right for your area.

Floating Row Covers Provide Frost Protection

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