The Q&A Archives: Floating Row Covers

Question: I was looking for a way to combat the insect that is making small holes in my eggplant leaves and someone suggested growing plants under floating row covers. What are they and how do I use them?

Answer: Floating row covers are sheets of lightweight polyester fabric that allow water, light and air in, but, properly secured, keep out insects and other pests. The fabric essentially "floats" over the plants as they grow. To use them, cover the plants and secure the edges of the fabric to the soil, either by burying the edges in the soil, with stones, or with metal soil staples. Row covers are ususally left on as long as necessary to protect the plants from particular insects. For flea beetles, the insects causing holes in your eggplant, leave the row covers on for the first 6 weeks or so. If a very hot spell comes along, remove the covers so the heat doesn't build up underneath. If you use row covers on crops that are insect-pollinated, such as squash, you'll need to remove the covers when the flowers appear, so the bees can do their work. Row covers can be stored and reused over and over.

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