Ice, snow, and freezing temperatures usually mean the end of our growing season. This year after visiting Homestead Heritage Farm I wanted to see if we could extend it just a little longer. We usually only plant lettuce, spinach, and radishes in the spring. This year as soon as it was cool enough I began planting seeds every three weeks to ensure a continuous crop. My initial idea was to stop once we had a hard freeze. Of course, after enjoying the garden even longer than normal I was determined to find a way to save our current crop from the ice and snow that was looming in our 10-day forecast.
I mentioned to my husband, Scott that I was going to buy some plastic to cover the veggies but I wasn’t sure how to keep the weight of the ice and snow from crushing the crop beneath it. We tossed around some ideas and then headed to Home-Depot and then Tractor Supply Store. I have to say I am very happy with the results! It is late March and I am still harvesting cilantro, spinach, lettuce, and radishes!
The video below shows step by step how we constructed our row covers. The best part is the row covers are very sturdy and can be used year after year. I am planning to use them through mid-spring to warm up the beds and get a head start on our summer crops!
We did take temperature readings before and after the freeze under the plastic and compared them to the outside temperature. I had read that row covers could increase the bed temperature by 30 degrees but I was skeptical. Our first outside reading was 50 degrees and after only 2 hours the temperature under the plastic was 72 degrees. We did not check the temperature under the plastic until the ice melted but after days of freezing weather, ice and snow our lettuce bed stayed at 57 degrees when it was only 39 degrees outside!
Have you tried to extend your growing season before for your garden? If so please let me know how it worked out for you. I would love to hear any ideas you have!