Ask a Question forum: Row covers for frost protection

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Name: Jamie Anthony
Ryan, OK (Zone 7b)
OKrancher
Feb 10, 2014 12:12 PM CST
Any advise on row covers for frost protection? What weight, durability, where to get good quality for good price, how to anchor them down, what to make the hoops out of,.....? I live in southern OK on a slight hill. The wind does blow in my location. With the hill, even more so than my neighbors. Thanks!
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Feb 10, 2014 5:54 PM CST
Masonry ladders - cheap and easy to put up and take down:

http://garden.org/ideas/view/Xeramtheum/1111/Masonry-Ladders...
"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

Unknown

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Feb 10, 2014 6:27 PM CST
I think the most frost protection comes from solid clear plastic film, not the non-woven breathable products.

But plastic may tend to blow away even more than than the more. I guess that keeping it low helps. Maybe lay 2x4s or bricks and shovel dirt on top of the edges for extra weight.

Hoops: metal conduit is not much more expensive than PVC pipes. I think the width of the beds determines how strong it has to be. There are 1/2" and 3/4" versions

I think that thin-wall electrical conduit called EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing) is the cheapest rigid material. You can bend it and then it holds its shape.

With PVC, you bend it and stick it into the ground under tension to keep it bowed. I have read that the plasticizers in PVC pipe weakens plastic film over months or years, but I don't know, myself.

I seldom see hoop tunnels with horizontal cross pieces lashed into place, but it seems to me that they would add stiffness to a tunnel. But probably the problem is more like "the plastic blew away" that "the whole tunnel fell down".

I hope someone with experience says more!

I only made one tiny tunnel to hold a few potted plants. I tied together two lengths of welded steel fencing (wire fencing with no added ribs) to get a little rigidity, but it would not have supported 2" of snow.

Thumb of 2014-02-11/RickCorey/cd19a3 Thumb of 2014-02-11/RickCorey/0237ef Thumb of 2014-02-11/RickCorey/a7755e

Name: Jamie Anthony
Ryan, OK (Zone 7b)
OKrancher
Feb 10, 2014 7:39 PM CST
Thanks to all for your input. I'd like to get a jumpstart on the season so I will look at your suggestions and keep my eyes open. My high today 26. Freezing fog, drizzle, and snow. Expecting 1-3 inches tonight through tomorrow mid afternoon. Arrgh!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 10, 2014 9:45 PM CST
Jamie, you do need to be careful if you use plastic that it doesn't touch the leaves of the plants, as it will conduct the cold, and also burn the leaves if the sun shines on it. You'd need to get out and vent your tunnel on warm, sunny days for the same reason. The plants easily get too warm with direct sun through plastic.

Maybe start out with plastic, then graduate to using frost cloth as the weather warms? I got what I think was a good deal on sheets of frost cloth from Gardener's Supply. They sell it in up to 6 x 50ft. sheets.

To be sure you're keeping the edges down in the wind, I sewed wide hems along the edges and slid heavy bamboo poles into them. (I have lots of bamboo) You could use pipe, rebar, or wood, whatever you've got lying around that is heavy enough.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Jamie Anthony
Ryan, OK (Zone 7b)
OKrancher
Feb 11, 2014 9:50 AM CST
Good point, Elaine, about the plastic touching the leaves. I'll look at Gardner's Supply.

Rick, are there different grades of plastic- there must be. What grade or weight do you use?

Thanks!

JA
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Be a voice - not an echo!
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Xeramtheum
Feb 11, 2014 10:34 AM CST
I use a 4 mil thick plastic. It's white, opaque and good for two years if you remove it and store it dry before the temps and sun start getting into the baking category. If it's going to be really windy I'll slap a small piece of duct tape on both sides of the plastic and literally sew it onto the masonry ladders.
"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

Unknown

Name: Jamie Anthony
Ryan, OK (Zone 7b)
OKrancher
Feb 11, 2014 1:30 PM CST
Hey Anne.

Masonry ladders. I think a I need a visual of your set up. Where do you buy your plastic?

JA
Name: Jamie Anthony
Ryan, OK (Zone 7b)
OKrancher
Feb 11, 2014 1:33 PM CST
Ok Anne. Finally followed your link. What are the ladders made of?
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 11, 2014 1:56 PM CST
>> What grade or weight do you use?

First I used a bag that some appliance came in.

Then I bought the cheapest 2-3 mil plastic that I saw in Home Depot. It was foggy, not clar, so i always wondered how much light that blocked.

When I was at a nursery/greenhouse wholesale place, I saw some guy come in and buy a roll of plastic for HUNDREDS of dollars. It must have been big and thick and professional quality. I just knew it was way out of my budget range.

Short answer: I'm pretty clueless about suitable plastic for a low poly tunnel!
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Be a voice - not an echo!
Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hybridizer Birds Seed Starter Cat Lover
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Xeramtheum
Feb 11, 2014 1:58 PM CST
Not exactly sure of the metal but I'm thinking galvanized steel? I have yet to see any rust on any of my ladders .. You don't need the supports if you cut them in half which is about the right height for row covers bowed over into an arc. If you don't cut it, you will need supports.

I got large roll of the plastic at home depot almost 20 years ago - 16' x 100' - I had a house that was 3 feet off the ground and skirted it in winter. As long as it's kept in a cool dark place it won't degrade as I'm still using the original roll I bought. I used it to cover my 2nd greenhouse before I put the cover on it and this is the 2nd year I've used the same piece of plastic and I'm pretty sure I'll be using the same pieces next year as well .. no degradation at all in it that I can see.

Thumb of 2014-02-11/Xeramtheum/669542

"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Feb 11, 2014 2:14 PM CST
Hi, Jamie. Welcome! to ATP.

I've simplified a lot over the years.
Now I just use cut sections of heavy wire ( http://www.lowes.com/pd_52685-37672-122062_0__?productId=303... ) for the hoops, a layer or two of tulle ( http://www.tullesource.com/grey-tulle.html ) for the covering and some clothes pins to attach it to the hoops. A mound of soil or a few rocks will hold the edges down. No need to worry about venting, just put it up and leave it until you're sure the last frost is past.
If all you're looking for is a bit of frost protection, not freeze protection, this should work fine. It's quick and easy...and it's relatively inexpensive.

Smiling
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 11, 2014 2:18 PM CST
I don't use plastic at all for frost protection, but we do solarize our beds in the summer, and use 6mm. plastic for that. You can usually get it at Home Depot or Lowe's. The cheap 2 or 3mm stuff only lasts one season, and doesn't resist birds, hail or wind. By the end of 6 weeks of FL sun, it's all in pieces, even when we use 2 layers.

As Anne said, if you take it in before the sun gets too intense it should last you for several years. We get about 2 years out of cheap 6mm. because it is used in the max summer sun for about 6 weeks to 'bake' the soil and get rid of nematodes.

I'm about to buy some for my local school garden, and found this link with 6ft. width for .79cents per linear food. (a 50ft. length would cost $40) but this is 6mm. UV stabilized, 92% light transmission and supposed to last 4 years. (that's probably year 'round use, not temporary use like what we're talking about) I'd think this product would last really well for a tunnel for a couple of months in early spring.

Sewing it to the masonry ladders is a great idea, Anne. You really do need to attach it somehow, it will flap its way out from under just about any weight you put on top of it. Also if it's flapping at all, it's letting in the cold air!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Jamie Anthony
Ryan, OK (Zone 7b)
OKrancher
Feb 11, 2014 2:48 PM CST
Anne, thanks for the pic. The plastic is white-ish not clear. That 'clears' things up that I've been reading on Lowe's website.

Chelle, who would have though: Tulle. I bet it would work for sun/some insect protection, too.

Elaine, you mentioned a link? I didn't see one. I was planning on 30in rows so 6ft would work for my low row covers don't you think? I have heard of using plastic to warm the soil to plant warm crops a little early but not to fry insects. Awesome!

Thanks!

JA
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Feb 11, 2014 3:28 PM CST
OKrancher said:
...Tulle. I bet it would work for sun/some insect protection, too.


Thanks!

JA


I tip my hat to you.

That it does. http://garden.org/ideas/view/chelle/911/Tulle-in-the-Garden/ It's a great multipurpose garden tool! I buy it by the bolt, oh, every third year, or so. Smiling

I use it all over the yard when a late frost is expected, too...it works much better than old sheets.

Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
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ShadyGreenThumb
Feb 11, 2014 3:50 PM CST
How do you get your duct tape to stick on the plastic? Mine only lasted a few weeks before I have to redo it.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Be a voice - not an echo!
Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hybridizer Birds Seed Starter Cat Lover
Pollen collector Morning Glories Greenhouse Bookworm Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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Xeramtheum
Feb 11, 2014 4:01 PM CST
I've had no problem with it sticking as long as the plastic is dry when you first put it on .. as I mentioned if you stick a small piece on and stick another piece of tape on the other side of the plastic on top of the first piece you can sew/wire it on there without having to worry about the plastic ripping. I use dental floss.
"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

Unknown

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 11, 2014 5:15 PM CST
Jamie, I'll try again with the link to the greenhouse covering plastic.

https://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/prod1;ft_greenhouse_eq...
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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