Protecting Plants and Vegetables from Frost
One of the home gardener's biggest concerns certainly is frost protection during the early stages of our vegetable garden. The trouble with frost protection is not knowing when you are going to need it. The weatherman isn't always right and if your plants aren't protected during a severe frost event you can lose a large part of your garden investment.
Frost Protection Methods:
While in the planning stages of designing your garden, be sure to consider factors that might help to eliminate risk of frost damage, such as:
Clear plastic: If you choose to use clear plastic, be sure to use supports that keep the plastic from touching your plants; plants will otherwise freeze where they are touching the plastic. For somewhat frost-tolerant plants, building a simple plastic over wire mesh cold frame, which can be opened during the day so as not to overheat the plants, and then closed again at night. Clear plastic used in such a manner provides 3 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit protection over the outside temperature and can extend your growing season by 2 to 6 weeks at both the beginning and end of the season.
Fabric coverings: Covering your garden with blankets and sheets can provide adequate frost protection, but only if they remain dry. Once wet, the evaporation that occurs from the fabric will cool the surrounding areas and possibly cause damage to your vegetables.
Floating row covers: Floating row covers are commercially available, lightweight fabric lengths that allow light to pass through, and can remain covering the plants for long periods of time, extending even beyond times when frost is generally a problem. For this reason, floating row covers are also frequently used as a garden pest management tool as well as for frost protection. Floating row covers generally provide plants an additional 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit protection.
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