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Milkwood Blog

Rockin the row cover – protecting spring crops

September 28, 2012 | Farming, Gardening, Market Garden | 9 comments | Author:

So most of our spring seedlings are now out of their soil blocks and getting planted into the ground. But being Mudgee, there’s still plenty of frosts, which doesn’t sit well with spring veggies – time for spring row covers!

Row covers are pretty invaluable in a small setup like ours – we dont have oodles (or any) space in greenhouses to grow out veggies ’till the last frost passes, so once they’re past the seedling stage, it’s into the ground for them. Row covers help in a range of ways and are simple to construct.

Michael puts in the re-bar uprights for the hoops
Pak choi, awaiting it’s covering. Extra sawdust in the paths to deter slugs, which we’re finding are a problem this spring

The benefits of floating row covers include, but are not limited to:

  • raising the night-time temperature of the bed to prevent frostbite
  • protecting crops (somewhat) from hail etc
  • can be used to protect crops form cabbage moths, birds etc
  • after a heavy frost (highly non-ideal), you want the plants to thaw out slowly to increase their chances of survival
  •  can be easily removed for harvest or checking
  • water permeable so can stay put for watering + rain

In short, row covers are like a light blanket for crops. They’re water permeable, light to work with, and let the sunshine in. We got our floating row cover from Allsun Farm, and it’s called Geo20 – a light, spun polyester fabric, that comes in great long rolls.

For the hoops, we use 3/4 inch scrap polypipe, cut to size as needed. We secure the hoops to the ground with short lengths of 1/2 inch re-bar, which is great for the purpose and worth getting specifically as it works so well with the 3/4 inch pipe.

Zag cuts hoops from scrap 3/4 inch polypipe (with Ashar supervising)
Zag bangs in the re-bar stakes for one extra hoop
Zag secures the polypipe hoop over the re-bar stakes
Le hoop! Ready for floating row cover

Twirl it into a knot at the ends, and there you have it – row covered.

An economical solution to upping our chances of a good harvest sooner in the season! Row cover from Allsun Farm can be got here (scroll down to floating row cover).

We offer training in organic market garden skills at both Milkwood and Allsun Farm for folks wanting to get serious about growing, and hands-on Serious Backyard Veggies courses in Sydney.

>> More posts about growing good clean food at Milkwood Farm + beyond

Row cover prep and air guitar. Obvious partners, really. Especially at the end of a long day in the market garden. Love your work, Zag.

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  • http://www.allsun.com.au Joyce Wilkie

    Garden is looking fantastic – great work. Bet you can’t wait for summer!

    • http://milkwood.net milkwoodkirsten

      thats the stamp of approval we want :)

    • Michael

      thanks Joyce :)

  • http://mysisterspantry.wordpress.com Little Sis

    Thanks so much for not simply telling us it’s easy, but showing us that it is, in fact, not that difficult and then telling us how to do it. So helpful. Really.

    • http://milkwood.net milkwoodkirsten

      no worries :)

  • http://www.baysail.com.au JohnO

    It just seems to be getting better and better. You guys are doing well.

  • http://2icorchardist.wordpress.com Justin NeMo

    Looks really good! Are those drip irrigation that you are using?

  • http://www.facebook.com/zoe.gersbach.smith Zoe Gersbach-Smith

    where can you get 3/4 inch scrap polypipe? i don’t want to buy it new!
    thanks for all the information and inspiration. (:

    • http://milkwood.net milkwoodkirsten

      hmm dont know – but it’s cheap if yr only getting a couple of meters and it will last for years!

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