New Row Cover Design

Although this summer was been mild and hurricane-free, we often do get a good deal of wind here. Our old row cover fabric from the spring took a beating because of it, so we picked up some new to protect our broccoli bed from cabbage loopers:

This fabric is of much better quality than the stuff we used before, and it comes in rolls 13 feet wide. We got a 16-foot length, which (as you can see) is too big for our 4x8 broccoli patch. Turns our we based our measurements on our older, taller PVC hoops. Better too big than too small, though. We folded up the ends and used bricks to hold them in place:

Another upgrade to help hold the row covers in place are these pvc clips:

I read about these in The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, by Niki Jabbour. All it takes is a bit of PVC a size up in diameter from the ones you use for hoops. Kirk cut them into these short pieces, then cut a slice out the long way, leaving the black PVC in a C-shaped piece. Then you just snap them on over the fabric to hold it in place along the hoops. It works really well — so far so good with the wind! When you want to open it up, you just slide the clips up along the hoops:  

The final improvement we made was to use a bamboo pole along the long end of the frame:

We wrapped the extra fabric around the pole, which forms a batten to tuck against the raised bed edge. This holds the long end down in place, and also keeps it all neat when we open it — just lift it up in one piece, like a big window shade. Our poles are pretty beefy — the pieces are left over from some privacy fencing sections at the Red House. 

All of these improvements are working much better than our old row covers and greenhouse tunnels. When it gets colder, we'll just switch out the row cover fabric for plastic. We made just this one as a test, but the design seems solid, so we'll probably model the rest of the green house tunnels on this prototype (with the only adjustment being to size the fabric correctly). Success!


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