Wrap Your Garden In Winter: A Fabric Row Cover Giveaway!

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I’m so glad I didn’t plant a summer garden this year.

Don’t worry… someone hasn’t hijacked my blog. I really said it, and I mean it. The crazy hustle-and-bustle of this move has left very little time for all of the work that a summer garden entails. Plus, with all of the ridiculous rain that we’ve received this summer (our wettest on record!), there would be no way I would have been able to keep up with the weeds. And considering that many of our local farms have suffered terrible water and wind damage from all the storms, any corn, tomatoes, or pole beans that I may have planted could have been all for nought, anyway. Instead, I’ve got great new neighbors who are gifting us with heirloom beans, tomatoes and squash, and I’m supporting my local farmers by buying what’s available at our Farmers’ Market.

Besides, I haven’t missed my window for providing homegrown vegetables for my family this year. That’s because there is no “window” for gleaming harvests from our gardens. There is no “garden season” around here, because there is ALWAYS something in season, even though our winters dip below 0 F (-18 C). I’m about to plant the fall and winter gardens, an endeavor which starts for me in late July, and doesn’t end until Halloween (only because I succession crop since I also grow for market… you don’t have to be that busy).

So when I say there’s nothing planted in the garden right now, it’s a half-truth. There are blocks and blocks of cowpeas and buckwheat cover crops that are growing, to be worked into the soil in a few weeks to add fertility and organic matter that will support the growth of fall and winter crops. I’ve started flats upon flats of brassicas, alliums, and herbs, all for transplanting in the coming months for winter harvests. There are sweet potatoes galore, which will be harvested in October for feasts all through the following year. And squash… I’ve got to grow squash, of course, so seeds went in the ground just last week when there was a rare break from the rain (sadly, no Hubbards, however, as their 100-days-to-maturity would be cutting it too close to guarantee a harvest).

You could say that fall and winter have become the “garden season” for me; all of my garden planning revolves around it, and it’s the topic I’m most often asked to speak about at conferences or for gardening organizations. Since I work full-time away from home, winter growing certainly is the easiest… no weeds, diseases, or bugs to contend with, as in summer. And since I’ve switched completely from clear plastic to fabric row covers, there’s very little management to the winter garden anymore.

And I want to share that experience with you in more ways than just this blog… I’m offering one lucky reader the chance to win a 10 ft wide by 50 ft long roll of Gro-Guard 34 row cover from the fantastic folks at Atmore Industries.

For the uninitiated, fabric row covers (aka, frost blankets) are made of polypropylene or polyester fibers bonded loosely together in a thin sheet, allowing the passage of air, water, and light. The amount of fibers bonded together influences the weight of the row cover, and thus covers with higher weights are thicker and provide more frost protection and greater durability. But thicker fabrics come at a price… they allow less light penetration, which is the most limiting factor (other than cold temperatures) to winter vegetable growth. Gro-Guard 34 (slightly heavier than Agribon 30, for those more familiar with that brand) hits the sweet spot that allows effective light transmission (about 70%) with improved frost protection (down to 24 F, though cold-tolerant plants will easily survive temps near 0 F).

A January harvest of salad greens, kale, kohlrabi, and root crops.

A January harvest of salad greens, kale, kohlrabi, and root crops.

A typical February salad, all fresh from the garden.

A typical February salad, all fresh from the garden.

 

I made the switch to Gro-Guard 34 last year, after performing trials of several brands of row cover the previous winter– I simply found Atmore’s product to be the most durable during the winter growing season under my conditions. And when conditions got really tough, like during our deep freeze in February when we hit -14 F, I simply added one more layer of Gro-Guard as extra protection for the plants. No heat, no glass, no clear plastic… it’s amazing what giving your garden a blanket can do!

Even after dips to -14 F, these cabbage, kohlrabi, and mache marched into March unfazed.

Even after dips to -14 F, these cabbage, kohlrabi, and mache marched into March unfazed.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below either explaining your previous experience growing in winter, or why you would like to try this year. Want another entry? Share any of my Facebook photos promoting the giveaway. Contest ends at midnight on July 27th… good luck!

 

More on Using Row Covers

6 Ways Row Cover in a Garden Will Help You Grow More Food, from Montana Homesteader

How to Extend Your Growing Season in the Spring, from Little Mountain Haven

10 Reasons Why Low Tunnels Beat Cold Frames for Winter Gardening

Is Clear Plastic Necessary? Success with Fabric Row Covers

Fabric or Plastic? Choosing Row Cover

How to Build a Low Tunnel

 

More on Winter Gardening from Mother of a Hubbard

Winter Vegetable Planting Dates

Cheating Winter: The Little Known Truth about Frost and Freeze Tables

10 Vegetables More Cold Hardy than Kale

Calculating Your Garden’s Persephone Days

Candy Carrots and Turnip Treats: Why Some Veggies Are Sweeter in Winter

My Favorite Winter Gardening Resources

Clicking on the following links costs nothing extra to you, but provides affiliate advertisement income that helps me pay for this blog to operate.

 

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