Growing Snow Peas in your backyard gaden

Growing snow peas is an easy process that starts early in the spring and can even be done in the fall. This growing guide will give you the basics needed to get a great crop of snow peas this year.

Growing Snow Peas

Like most of my growing guides, this one on growing snow peas is meant to give you general information to get you started. Growing conditions will vary based on the region you live in, but this guide will give you all the basics to get you started growing snow peas.

What are Snow Peas?

There are 3 general types of peas:
1. Shelling peas – which are grown for the round peas inside the pod. The pods of shelling peas are not eatable.
2. Snap peas – These peas can be eaten at any stage, both the pod and the peas inside are eatable.
3. Snow Peas – These tasty treats are grown primarily for their eatable pods. The pods are usually flatter and when the peas inside do develop they never fill up the pod like the other two. Although eatable at any stage, snow peas are usually harvested while the pods are fairly small and tender.

Growing Snow Peas 2

The most important thing to know when growing snow peas is that they are a cool season crop. This means that snow peas prefer to grow in temperatures lower than 80 degrees. (27 Celsius). Spring is the ideal time for growing snow peas, but they also do well in the fall. In fact in our area where the fall is warm and short, they are the most successful pea to plant in the fall. To learn more about the difference between cool and warm season crops read this post.

Growing Snow Peas
Planting area and soil

Peas will grow best in a sunny spot. Snow peas seem to tolerate a little less sun than other peas, but you should still shoot for a spot that gets at least 8 hours of sun light per day.

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Peas also prefer fertile well drained soil that is slightly alkaline. If you live in an area with acidic soil you may consider adding some lime to your soil. Snow peas also do well when grown in containers and can be quite attractive as container plants with a decorative trellis.

Timing

Plant your snow peas as early as possible in the spring. As soon as you are able to work the soil you can plant peas. Warming the soil first using this trick will help them get off to a quick start. I try to get my peas in the ground about 60 days before my average last frost date. This will give them plenty of cool spring weather to grow in.

Fall planting dates are a little harder to nail down. Pea plants themselves are very frost tolerant, but the pods are less tolerant of frost. You want to get them planted soon enough so that there is not a big danger of super cold temps when the crops mature. I target 60 days before the first fall frost date. This usually means it is still quite hot when they are planted, the hotter summer weather usually means fall crops are not as productive.

Planting

Plant snow pea seeds directly in the soil as soon as the soil is dry enough to be worked. Peas are planted 1 inch deep and space about 2 inches a part. Once the plants have germinated you can thin them as needed. You can eat the thinnings. They are great in salads and can also be stir fried. But having said that, I seldom thin my peas. Peas do well when planted closely together so I don’t usually bother.

Watering

Peas need about an inch of water per week. The nice thing about spring around our place is that I seldom have to water because of our spring rains.

Drip irrigation is always the best method for watering your plants (learn more about my drip system here). It is especially important to keep your peas well watered when they are blooming and producing fruit.

Of course water is super important when planting a fall crop. The heat of late summer will require watering at least twice a week.

Support

Most snow peas varieties are vining and will require the support of some type of trellis. Pea vines climb pretty well on their own and really don’t require a lot of tending. But you do need to offer them something to climb on.

 

Growing Snow Peas 3

I’m all for simple so most years I just put some tomato cages out between the rows of snow peas. This has always worked well for me, the peas are done before I really need the cages on the tomatoes.

But snow peas lend themselves to growing on many different types of trellis’. The important part is that you use something to keep the plants up off the ground. Growing on a trellis will increase production and reduce disease.

Growing Snow Peas 5

Harvesting

You will know harvest time is coming when your snow peas start to flower. Once you start to see flowers you should begin checking for pods about a week later.

Remember that snow peas are at their best when the pod is 2 to 3 inches long and the peas inside have not started to develop. If you wait too long the pods get tougher and are not as tasty. Although they are still eatable at any stage, they are better when they are young.

Growing Snow Peas 4

Once the harvest begins, plan on picking every day! You should be out harvesting daily to make sure your peas don’t slip past that perfect stage!!

To harvest simply pinch the vine directly above the pod, or if you give the plant a little support you can simply pull the pod from the vine.

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Snow peas are fantastic eaten fresh!! And that is how we eat most of ours. They will last up to a week if kept in the fridge. They are also perfect for stir fry!!

If you find yourself overwhelmed with too many snow peas to eat fresh they can be easily frozen. Simply blanch them either in boiling water or with a steam basket for 3 minutes. Then freeze them flat on a cookie sheet over night. They can then be stored in freezer bags in a deep freeze for up to 12 months.

Growing snow peas is a fairly simple and rewarding crop for your garden. Just a few plants are very productive and they can easily be tucked into any sunny corner of your garden. They even look great and do very well when planted in a flower bed! So get some snow peas planted today!

Here are a few other posts that may help you in your efforts to grow peas in your garden:

Complete Growing Guide for Peas

Growing Peas in the Fall

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Growing Snow Peas

 

March Planting Guide for Zone 7

In an attempt to broaden the range of gardening advice we give here on Stoney Acres I’ve decided to invite a few guest posters to add their gardening know how to Stoney Acres.  Today’s March Planting Guide for Zone 7 comes to you from Ann Caliri over at the blog LiveTheOldWay.com.  Ann is a great blogger and gardener and I’m glad to have her on board with this great Zone 7 planting guide.  Be sure to go visit her blog!

March Planting Guide for Zone 7

Let me start out by giving you a quick link.  This post is meant for those of you living mainly in Garden Zones 4 to 7.  If you don’t know what your garden zone is follow this link to find out!

In Zone 7, we’re officially dreaming of spring. We’re starting seedlings indoors, organizing our gardening tools and giving the garden beds a final tilling. Even though it’s still too cold for the plants that typically come to mind when we talk about our gardens, it’s a perfect opportunity to lay in a crop of cool weather vegetables. Most of these will be done in time to rotate in our warm weather planting and many actually improve the soil for their rotation buddies. Some of our favorites and planting tips are:

March Planting Guide for Zone 7
Romaine Lettuce

March Planting Guide for Zone 7 4

For as delicate as it appears, Romaine Lettuce is surprisingly cold hardy.  We start seedlings indoors and then transplant in early March.  Our final frost date is mid-April, so we still keep an eye on the weather.  If it looks like we’re in for more than a light frost, we will cover the lettuce plants to protect them.  Planting early gives us a wonderfully long crop of these tasty leafy greens.  In addition to Romaine, Arugula, Endive, Bok Choy, Spinach and Kale can be planted this month in Zone 7.

Cabbage

March Planting Guide for Zone 7 2

Cabbage is another favorite because it is so versatile.  We use saved seeds that we originally started from an heirloom variety about 5 years ago.  We let them go to seed on a couple of plants in the corner of the garden where they are out of the way, then harvest the pods to dry for planting the next year.  Our cabbage gets started in Late January or early February with the lettuce so they can go in the ground at the same time.

Beets

No cool season garden would be complete without a beet row or two.  We direct sow these seeds in March since they don’t do well being transplanted.   Beets will grow well until the temperature approaches about 80 degrees so our region (7) allows for both early spring and late fall planting.   Beets are incredibly nutritious and our livestock love the greens.

Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips and Radishes

Other root vegetables to plant in March are carrots, parsnips, turnips and radishes.  Like their cousin the beet, these do best when sown directly where they are to grow versus transplanting.

Peas

Sugar Snap Peas, Snow Peas and English Peas are a fast maturing crop, easily grown twice a year in zone 7.  Early spring planting is preferable to late fall planting though since the vines are more resistant to freezing than the pods are.  Direct-sow tall or climbing varieties near a trellis for support.

Herbs

March Planting Guide for Zone 7 3

Right or wrong, we also sow herb seeds and even transplant already started herbs outdoors in mid to late March.  These, like the others, we cover if more than a light frost is predicted.   A few that do well started in cool weather are Chives, Dill, Sage, Thyme and Cilantro.  Even Basil does ok if it’s in an area that can gather a little heat during the day.

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Thanks Ann for giving us this March Planting Guide for Zone 7, if you would like to learn a little more about Ann please check out her Bio below!

Bio:

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John and Ann are homesteaders, foragers, and owners of the instructional website LiveTheOldWay.com.  They live on 85 acres in an underground passive solar house in central North Carolina.  Where they focus on living off the land and utilizing “lost skills” that were once commonplace.  In addition to hunting, livestock husbandry and preserving the food they grow and forage, another concentration of theirs is the use of herbal medicine; specifically using only plants and herbs that are native to the area and thus readily available in a survival situation.  Ann has studied extensively with some of the foremost foraging and herbal medicine making experts in the neighboring Appalachian mountains.  And enjoys utilizing this knowledge in their daily lives as well as passing on these skills to others.

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March Planting Guide – Zones 4 to 6

March has arrived in your garden! This March Planting Guide will give those of you that live in Zones 4-6 a good idea of what seeds can be planted directly in the garden and what seedlings you need to be planting indoors during the month of March!

March Planting Guide Zones 4-6

Let me start out by giving you a quick link.  This post is meant for those of you living mainly in Garden Zones 4 to 7.  If you don’t know what your garden zone is follow this link to find out!

This is my garden on March 1st! It’s not looking very promising right now! But by month end we will see the beginnings of our 2017 garden. March is the month when gardening starts in earnest in the colder northern climates.

March Planting Guide 2

March Planting Guide

This March Planting Guide is meant to give those of you in Zones 4-6 some ideas of what you should be planting. Like last month’s guide this advice will apply as follows:
Zone 6 – You can start these planting instructions in early March
Zone 5 – You will begin most of this planting around the 15th through the 30th
Zone 4 – These planting instructions will apply to you right at the end of March

Keep in mind that last frost dates are everything in early spring planting. This March Planting Guide assumes you know your average last frost date and that you will be starting these planting suggestions roughly 60 days prior to that date.

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March Planting Guide – Seedlings Indoors

It’s not too late to get seedlings going indoors, in fact you still have plenty of time for indoor seed starting.

Cool Season Crops
Cabbage Family

You can get seedlings started indoors for plants like cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, collards and cauliflower. Seedlings for these plants will be ready to move outdoors in about 6 weeks, so if started early they can still be ready to plant in the garden by mid April. All of these plants are pretty hardy. I like to have mine out in the garden with a little protection from a light fabric row cover about 30 days before my last frost.

Greens

You can also still start just about any leafy green you would like indoors. Starting greens indoors may seem like over kill to some because they do so well when planted outdoors. But I have found that starting greens indoors this early in the year gets you a head start on the season.

Plant lettuce , spinach, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbages and any other greens indoors now and plan on moving them out to the garden in 4 to 6 weeks.

March Planting Guide 3

Warm season crops

March is the perfect time to get your warm season seedlings started indoors. Plant crops like tomatoes and peppers roughly 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost. Or if you are feeling adventurous, plant them sooner and plan on setting the plants out under the protection of walls of water.

March is too soon to plant seedlings for any squash family plants. Plants like cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini don’t transplant well. You should wait until only about 3 weeks before your last frost date to get these started.

Planting Outdoors

March is the time to start thinking about planting outdoors in the garden. As soon as the soil is dry enough to work you can get some of the following seeds directly sown outdoors in the soil. I would recommend warming your soil first. To learn more about this trick read this post.

Peas

Peas are very hardy plants, especially when they are smaller. I try to get my peas planted at least 8 weeks before my last frost date. For us that means mid March. I get the soil warmed up for a week or two first and plant as soon as I can work the soil!

Onions and Leeks

Many people don’t realize how hardy onions are! You can plant onions by seedling or by sets as early as 6 weeks before your last frost. Mine usually go in the last week of March. Planting them this early gives them plenty of cool weather to get a big head start on the growing season.

Root crops

You can direct sow seeds for plants like beets, turnips, radishes and carrots as early as 8 weeks before your first frost. Warming the soil first helps. Once they have germinated a little protection from frost on really cold nights will help them thrive. Try using some fabric row cover for protection.

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Leafy greens

Once your soil is dry enough to work you can start sowing your first succession plantings on all your leafy greens. Lettuces, spinach, chard and more. Again warming the soil first and then protecting with a light row fabric will help these early plantings to flourish.

Potatoes

If you have the protection of a cold frame or a hoop house you can also get an extra early crop of potatoes planted. I try to get my first potatoes planted 8 weeks before the first frost but please note that you must protect the plants from frost! Learn more about this process by reading this post.

March Planting Guide 4

Well that’s it for this March planting guide. I hope it helps you get an extra early start this year on your spring garden. Planting many seeds now in March will lead you to a wonderful harvest this spring starting in late April!!!

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Indoor seed starting setup- Free Garden Video!

I finally got a chance to sit down and film and edit a new YouTube video this week.  The topic is a tour of my indoor seed starting setup!

Indoor seed starting setup

I think learning to start your own seedlings indoors is one of the most important things a gardener can learn to do.  Starting your own seedlings opens up a whole new world of plant varieties and options for your back yard garden.  There are so many plants that you just can’t get at your local nursery.  So if you want to grow them then you need to start them yourself!

 

With spring quickly approaching I thought it would be a good time to start filming my weekly gardening tips again.  So today I set out for the garage with my new mic in hand to take you on a tour of my seed starting set up!

 

Here’s the video:

Indoor Seed Starting Set up

 

For those of you looking for the seed starting course coupon please follow this link!

In the video I promised some more pictures of the shelf structure along with a materials list:

Tools Needed:

Circular Saw or Hand saw

Electric Drill

1/8 inch drill bit for pre-drilling

Materials needed:

7- 8 foot 2×2’s

1 box 2 inch screws

4 hooks

2 4 foot shop lights

2 pieces of shelving (Material of your choice) 48 inches long by 20 inches wide

Cut List

Cut the 2×2’s as follows

4 – 48 inch boards

5 – 60 inch boards

8 – 17.5 inch boards

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Assembly of your Indoor seed starting setup

1. Assemble the sides first, each side has two 5 foot boards and two 17.5 inch boards.  The 17.5 inch boards go on the inside and are attached using a couple of screws driven through the 5 foot boards.  Two of the 17.5 inch boards go on the top and 2 at 30 inches measured down from the top.

 

2.  Connect the two sides with the four 48 inch boards, these boards again go at the top and at 30 inches measured down from the top.

Indoor seed starting setup 2

3.  Add the extra four 17.5 inch boards in about 4 inches from the ends connecting the two sides.  These extra boards are to hang the lights from and to add extra support.

Indoor seed starting setup 3

4.  Finally screw the shelves down with 3 screws on each side driven into the 48 inch side boards.

 

That’s it!  It is really quite simple to put this indoor seed starting setup together!

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Here’s the coupon I promised on my seed starting course in the video, just click on the link above.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks video!

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What does the return of 10 hour days mean for you Garden?

The arrival of mid February means that for nearly all of us the 10 hours days of sunlight have arrived again. Even for those of you further north those 10 hour days should be arriving soon.

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What does 10 hours of sunlight mean for your garden?

The main benefit of the arrival of 10 hour days is plant growth. There are very few garden vegetables that grow with less than 10 hours of light. Now that the days are getting longer you will start to notice plants that are tucked into your cold frames and hoop houses are starting to grow again.  Most of these plants will be leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale and even lettuce that you have over wintered.

10 Hour Days Spinach

My overwintered spinach patch is a great example of this. I’m already starting to notice leaves are getting larger and holes left from heavy winter harvests are filling in!  Temperatures are getting warm enough that I will be able to remove the extra layer of fabric row cover soon.  Once that happens things will really take off!

For those of you that are fortunate enough to to have a green house. The longer days mean warmer temperatures inside the green house. Now is the time to start thinking about cleaning things up and planting seedlings.

10 hour days also mean it’s time to think about things you can do to start getting some early spring crops planted. If your soil has had a chance to dry out a bit you might be able to slip out on a warm afternoon and plant you first spinach, chard, kale or even lettuce seeds directly sown in the garden.  Those seeds may just sit un-germinated for a few weeks, but getting them out now will mean they are ready for that first real spurt of warm weather!

Another activity you can be doing now, to get an early spring start on your garden is warming your soil. This is a simple trick I learned years ago that will help you get spring started super early. To learn more about warming your soil read this post!

Indoor seed starting should be under way as well. Once those 10 hour days arrive in your garden again, warmer days will follow. It’s time to start seedlings for lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and many more cool season crops. Learn more about what seedlings you can be starting by reading these posts (January, February, March).

10 Hour Days Cold Frame

Now, I know that either here or on Facebook I will get comments about this post. “Oh, not for me, we are still months away from gardening”. But remember that I am in a warm zone 5b. And I can pull it off. I want to encourage you to start thinking year round gardening. No matter where you live once the 10 hour days arrive in your garden, there is something you can be doing!

To learn more about year round gardening please check out my Year Round Gardening video course.

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February Seed Starting Schedule

This February Seed Starting Schedule is targeted for those of you that live in the colder northern zones. (Zones 3 to 7).  If you live in any of these Zones then February is the month to get serious about starting this years seedlings!

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This post may contain affiliate links, clicking on an affiliate link won’t cost you any extra and will allow Stoney Acres to earn a small commission on any of your purchase.

 

I have done my best to make this February seed starting schedule as general as I can. Keep in mind that I can’t be all things to everyone. I’ve tried to give you a guide for each of the colder zones (zones 3 to 7) Don’t know your zone? Click here.

My February seed starting schedule always starts with some leafy greens and ends with the first of my tomatoes. No matter where you live you can put together your own February seed starting schedule by deciding when you want to plant outdoors and then counting back 6 to 8 weeks.

You never want your seedlings in pots for more than 8 weeks, 6 weeks is usually better. So use that as your main guide when deciding what and when to plant.  To learn a little more about starting seedlings check out this post.  Want to learn a lot more about seed starting?  Check out my video course!

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Leafy greens

Anyone’s February seed starting schedule begins with some greens. The following are some ideas of varieties you can plant and when to get them started.

February Seed Starting Schedule 2

Lettuces

Look for hardy varieties, leaf lettuces do better than head lettuces this early in the year. Also despite the name summer crisp lettuces also do well in the early spring.

Spinach

Spinach is very hardy and does well when planted early. Remember to use larger containers for spinach to help those tap roots transplant well.

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Chard

Swiss Chars seedlings transplant well and are very hardy.

Kale

This nutritional power house does very well when transplanted out in the early spring. (And it tastes better)

Asian Greens

Don’t forget to plant a few tatsoi, mizuna or bac choy!  These plants do great in the spring and are very frost tolerant!

Planting times for leafy greens

Zone 7 – You can start in early February planting seedlings for any of these greens.

Zones 5/6 – February 15th is a good target date, unless you have a hoop house, if so you can start earlier.

Zones 3/4 – You can get some leafy green seedlings started late in February, but you should plan on protecting them with a hoop house or cold frame when they go out to the garden.

Cole crops (Cabbage family)

I like to get all of my Cole family crops out as early as I can. With just a little protection from a hoop house or even some fabric row cover these hardy plants will do very well when planted in early spring.

February Seed Starting Schedule 3

Varieties

Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts. Look for hardy varieties.

When to plant

Zone 7 – you can plant any time in February, the earlier the better!

Zones 5/6 – Around February 15th is the best time to get these out (plan on protecting young plants with row fabric)

Zones 3/4 – You might be able to sneak a few seedlings in at the end of February. But more likely you guys will need to wait till March, sorry!

Tomatoes

Yes, you can get some tomato seedlings started in February. These will be cold hardy varieties that will need the protection of a wall of water, or similar heat cap. You can plant a few tomatoes now, but this won’t be all of your plants for the season.

February Seed Starting Schedule 4

When to plant

Zone 7 – Get some tomatoes started early in February to go out under protection, and start more the end of the month as well (remember 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost without protection)

Zone 5/6 – Mid to late February is a good time to get some tomatoes started but only if you plan on protecting them with walls of water.

Zones 3/4 – Sorry guys it’s just too early for most of you!

Onions and leeks

It’s not to late to get some onions or leeks started indoors. I usually try to get my onions planted about 6 or 7 weeks before my last frost date. You need around 8 weeks to grow onion seedlings, so if those dates work out still for you the get some started!!

Celery

This addition to the list comes from a reminder from a reader, Michelle!  Most celery is a long season crop, needed 140 to 150 days of mostly cool weather to grow.  So getting celery started in February is also a great idea!  I would suggest mid February for Zones 5,6,7 and wait till late February or early March for Zones 3 & 4.

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I tried my best to give most of you in the colder climates some ideas of when and what to get planted this month. This February seed starting schedule isn’t perfect but should get you some ideas!

I would love your input, please comment below about what you are starting in February. Please be sure to include your Zone and what types of protection you use (I.e. cold frame, hoop house, etc)

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Using fabric row cover as a pest protection

Using fabric row cover as a pest protection is an effective and organic method for keeping many common garden pests off your crops.

Fabric Row Cover as Pest Protection

(*This post contains affiliate links, if you click on these links and purchase any of the products Stoney Acres will receive a small commission)
Gardens have bugs, that’s just part of life in a garden! But when bugs get out of control that’s when the problems start. Everyone will have different pest problems depending on the time of year and where you live. In our garden we have two major pest problems that can be quite effectively prevented by Using fabric row cover as a pest protection. Those two bugs are aphids and leaf miners. Oh how I hate these two bugs! We will see and occasional squash bug or maybe a tomato horn worm, but aphids and leaf miners are the trouble makers for us. Fortunately fabric row cover is very effective for both!

Using fabric row cover as a pest protection

The concept behind this is simple. You use light weight fabric row covers over the tops of your crops. You can either place the row covers directly on top of your beds or you could also use a frame or hoop system to suspend the row cover slightly above the plants, as you see in this picture below. The lighter grades of fabric row cover let 90 to 95% of the light and rain through, but keeps ALL the bugs out!

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Using fabric row cover as a pest protection is an organic method

It is important to us, that we don’t use chemical pesticides in our garden. There are two reasons for that, first we don’t want the chemical residue on our produce. Second . . . Bees! Most pesticides just kill everything in sight! We don’t want that. Our garden is full of beneficial insects like bees, mantis and lady bugs. Indiscriminately spraying kills everything, and we need to be protecting beatifically insects (especially the bees)! So using fabric row cover as a pest protection is the perfect choice for us!

What bugs will row covers keep out?

I guess the first thing I should say here is like any other method, using fabric row cover as a pest protection isn’t perfect. It won’t keep every bug out! But using row covers will cause a significant decline in the pest population in your garden. I have found it particularly helpful to keep out the smaller, less mobile bugs like leaf miners and most aphids. The row cover creates a barrier that keeps the mature egg laying bugs out. I have also found it keeps cabbage loopers from laying eggs on your Cole crops.

Using fabric row cover as a pest protection 3

Row covers do okay keeping out larger bugs like squash bugs and grass hoppers. But is seems like those larger, more determined bugs can some times find their way inside the cover. Keep in mind that row covers will also keep out beneficial bugs. This is especially important to keep in mind with plants that need bees and butterflies to pollinate flowers. So you may only be able to use a row cover on plants like squashes and melons until the plants start blooming. Once you start seeing flowers you need to get those covers off so the bees can find them!

When should you put the covers out

I try to get my covers out as quickly as possible. If I am setting out seedlings in the spring I will put the row covers on as soon as I plant. If I am planting by seed then I will wait until the seedlings emerge and get the covers on as soon as the new seedlings have their first set of true leaves.

The key here is the sooner the better! Set up the barrier to keep the bugs out, before the bugs are even around!

How to set things up

Using fabric row cover as a pest protection 2

My system is pretty simple, for most crops I stick a few stakes in the ground around the bed to help support the fabric. I then put some bottles upside down on those stakes (learn more about why I put bottles on the stakes here). Then I just hold the edges down with a few PVC pipes or old fence posts. Pretty simple and it works well for shorter crops.

I have also been known to do make shift tepee’s over new seedlings by running some bailing twine (A gardeners best friend) between some taller stakes and then again holding the fabric down with pipes or fence posts. This structure isn’t meant for long term use, but just for short term until the plants underneath can take the weight of the fabric (and any snow if it is early in the spring).

But I’m kind of a red neck when in comes to these things, I just cobble things together. You can also get fancy and attach your fabric to a hoop house or wire structure underneath. Since this isn’t something I normally do, I don’t have pictures. (Que the HBN blogging community) so I put out a request for photos and got these great examples from blogging friends.

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This first example is from the folks over at Homestead honey.  The have used PVC to create hoops and they are hold the fabric down with logs.

Fabric Row Cover Photo - Simply Canning 1

Sharon over at Simply Canning actually used the old legs from a trampoline to support the fabric.  This is a pretty clever idea!

Fabric Row Cover Tear - Simply Canning 2

She did warn that you need to watch out for sharp edges!

What weight (or grade) of fabric should you use

Fabric row covers were originally designed to provide frost protection in the garden. So you have to be careful what weight you purchase. When using fabric row cover as a pest protection you want to use the lightest weight possible. Many of the light weight fabrics will allow 90 – 95% of the sunlight through and most of the rain, while still keeping bugs out. This is the weight you should use.

Lighter weight fabrics have very little frost protection value (maybe only a degree or 2).  But they are super for keeping bugs out, while still allowing the plants underneath to grow.

Do not use the heavier frost blankets for pest protection. The heavy fabrics block 50% of the sunlight. This will pretty much shut down the growth of any plants underneath and also over heat your plants.

One disadvantage of the lighter fabrics is that they don’t stand up to the elements very well. Because they are so thin they tend to break down or get torn up a lot quicker than the heavy fabrics. Plan on having to replace the light fabrics every couple of seasons. One trick that might help is to buy it bulk! Row fabric is sold online in big rolls and it is much cheaper per foot that way.

This really does help!

Since I have started using fabric row cover as a pest protection we have seen a dramatic drop in the amount of damage we have from bugs. I don’t use them on every crop. In a healthy garden most plants can fight off pest infestations on their own. But we do have a few pest problems that the fabric row cover has really helped. They are awesome for keeping both aphids and cabbage moths out of our spring and fall Cole crops.

Using fabric row cover as a pest protection 4

When I get them out early and leave them on for most of the season we never see damage from these pests. They also are about the only solution for keeping leaf miners out of your leafy greens (like spinach, chard and beets). There is no spray solution that is effective against leaf miners (because they are inside the leaf and protected from pesticides).  So the only solution you really have it to keep them out using row fabrics!

I hope this post has helped you! I’ve tried to include as many links as I could to relevant articles. Also you will find some affiliate links to Amazon and other sites where you can buy fabric row cover.

As part of my new weekly video series I’ve added a 5 minute video tip on using fabric row cover for pest protection:

 

 

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