How to Build a Row Cover for Vegetable Gardens

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If you need a simple and quick cover to protect your vegetables from frost or cold winds, you can build a row cover for vegetable gardens very quickly and easily. While there are tunnels and lots of U-shaped pins out there for fair but high prices, if you have a few stakes, jars and some clear or frosted plastic tarp, your row cover can go up when you need it and removes easily when the threat of cold temperatures is over. If left on the row, your cover can continue to provide protection without blocking out sunlight.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden garden stakes, 3 feet long or longer
  • Empty glass jars
  • Plastic tarps, clear or frosted
  • Large rocks or bricks
  • Set a stake into the ground at each corner of the row you want to cover and at 12-to-16-inch intervals down each side. Push the stakes up to a foot deep into the ground.

  • Place an empty jar upside down over top of each of the stakes. The jar bottom will protect your tarp from snagging on the stake and potentially ripping.

  • Drape your tarp over the stakes so it touches the ground on all sides of the row. If you need to use more than one tarp, be sure they overlap by at least 6 inches to cover the row without gapping.

  • Anchor the edges of the tarp to the ground by laying a rock or brick on top of it. If there are excess lengths of tarp, fold the edges up neatly and set the brick over the fold to hold it.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can easily recycle household items to make your row cover by using washed spaghetti sauce, jelly and pickle jars. You can also cover the row with old clear or frosted shower curtain liners. Reuse your glass jars as cloches when you have small seedlings spaced far apart, such as for zucchini, which are planted up to 3 feet apart rather than stretching a row cover over them.
  • If you leave the row cover on your plants for any long period of time, you'll want to remember to remove the cover to water your plants manually. Even with rainfall, with the cover over your plants their roots will not be able to reach water, so you must be sure to water them yourself.

References

  • Vegetable Gardening: Your ultimate guide; Robert J. Dolezal; 2000
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