Covering your crops can help increase the yield, produce healthier crops and even extend the cropping season. There are different types of crop covers that you can use and each one is ideal for a specific season/temperature. Let’s take a look at these crop covers!
Crop covers made of solid plastic
They are ideal for colder months. They work as a small greenhouse, as they ensure moisture through condensation and the sun reflection keeps the temperature higher, preventing your crop form freezing. Additionally, solid plastic (usually polyethylene) keeps snails, squirrels and other pests away. If you are planting your garden in rows, a polyethylene tunnel might be just what you need. They come in different sizes (for plants with different heights) and they are easy to install and store away for the next year.
Crop covers made of fleece
As the weather gets warmer, you need a cover that still keeps the air around the plants warm, but is more breathable. Fleece lets the air circulate and sun come through, but not with its full intensity. This way you avoid sun-scorching of your plants. They are also protected from pests. It is a good plan to look for a type of cover that allows easy access to your plants, for watering, weeding and harvesting. There are folding tunnels available in the market that are very user-friendly in that sense. Keep in mind that both in the case of plastic and fleece covers, there should be a way to open part of the cover for ventilation, in case the weather is warmer than expected for a few days.
Net crop covers
When the temperatures are really high, it is time to replace the polyethylene or fleece cover with a lighter, breathable material. Net covers are the best choice. A net, depending on its density, provides shading for the plants, allowing the ground to keep moisture for longer. And of course it keeps pests away as well. The good thing about net tunnels or other types of net covers is that you can water your plants without removing the cover, which can be very handy. If you feel that the net cover you have keeps snails away but small insects like carrot flies still get to your plants, you can search for micro-mesh covers, which have a much smaller grid.
Perforated plastic covers
If you feel that the temperature is too low for a net cover, but your plants need some fresh air, then you can go for a perforated polyethylene cover. They come with wholes in different sizes. Make sure that the holes are large enough to allow pollinators to access the plants and small enough to keep pests away. The added advantage of perforated polyethylene covers is that watering can be done without removing the cover, much like with net covers.
When shopping for a crop cover, make sure to check that it is durable, easy to install, easy to store and its metal parts are not going to get full of rust after just one season. Look for folding covers, like tunnels, that can accommodate one or more rows of plants and take up minimal space in your storage room as well. Your crop season will be extended and your life will become much easier!