Row Covers, Floating Row Covers, Garden Blankets, and Shade Cloth
Posted Feb 21 2010 9:00am
Row covers, floating row covers, garden blankets, and shade cloth are made from varying weights of synthetic materials and are used to protect plants.
Heavyweight rows covers and garden blankets or quilts are used to protect plants from cold temperatures, chilling winds, and frosts--most often in late autumn, winter, and early spring. Lightweight floating rows covers are used to shield plants from insects and diseases in spring and summer. Shade cloth is used to shade soil and plants in hot summer weather.
Row covers and floating row covers are commonly made form spun bonded polyester or polypropylene fabric--often called horticultural cloth. Heavyweight covers are used to extend the growing season by keeping plants up to 10°F warmer during the day and 2° to 3°F warmer at night. Lightweight covers are used to exclude insects but are thin enough to allow light, water, and air to reach plants.
Row covers can be draped over hoops or frames set above rows of plants (to form protective tunnels) or they can be laid loosely or floated over plants. Medium to heavy weight row covers weighing from 1¼ to 2 ounces per square yard should be partially lifted on hot days and removed as the season advances to prevent plants from overheating.