April 8, 2013

Tips for extending the growing season


I like rowcover because it’s so porous that heat and humidity don’t build up underneath. But because it’s porous and lightweight, it offers little, if any, frost protection. Think of rowcover as a way to warm up the daytime growing conditions a bit and especially as a way to protect your crops from wind. Young, tender leaves have a tough time in windy conditions. Simply blocking the wind can really help young plants thrive.

Most crops do best when the cover is supported on low hoops. You can use flexible PVC pipe or sturdy wire to form hoops about 2 feet high over your crop rows. If you use raised beds that are framed in wood, you can drill holes right into the wood to anchor the wire, or sink the ends of the wire or pipe along the inside edge of the frame to provide some support. Set the hoops 2 feet to 3 feet apart then lay the rowcover over the top, leaving plenty of extra along the sides and ends for anchoring down.

If your garden is in a windy location, fasten twine or heavy string over the rowcover, between the hoops to help hold down the fabric. The wooden sides of raised beds are ideal for adding hooks to fasten down these anchoring ropes.

To learn more practical gardening tips, don’t miss our biannual Spring Garden Day on Saturday, April 20, at Clinton Community College. Registration is due soon, and classes are filling up. Contact our office for more information.

Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: Email questions to

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