Frequently asked questions

How do you protect crops from too much heat?

More and more gardeners are having to contend with soaring temperatures and heat waves. In southern regions, these extremes now extend into fall, stressing plants and causing them to bolt or die. The best way to protect late-season crops from excess heat–particularly greens–is by using a shade cloth.

What is pop-up crop protection?

For those times when the weather forecaster is calling for a freak frost, pop-up crop protection offers temporary relief for tender plants. These mini-structures are light, portable, small and easy to transport. Pop over your plants when a cold spell is expected and remove again when the threat has passed.

What’s the difference between a polytunnel, hoophouse, and greenhouse?

What you call these different structures depends somewhat on where you’re from, but generally speaking, a greenhouse is the classic, durable and often permanent structure made from glass or heavy plastic that provides year-round crop protection and excellent heat retention. A polytunnel or hoop house is a smaller, less permanent (and often less expensive) option for backyard gardens and small-scale farms. It consists of a thin steel structure covered with plastic sheeting, often in an elongated half circle.

What are the best fall high tunnel crops?

High tunnels look a lot like greenhouses, but they’re generally tall enough for machines to work inside. Plants are usually sown directly into the ground, rather than into pots or flats on tables. They may also be more portable than greenhouses as they’re made from ultra-light materials. Popular crops to plant in high tunnels include kale, spinach, lettuces, radishes, beets, turnips and carrots.

What’s the best row cover for raised garden beds?

Most heavyweight row covers made from polypropylene will work for crops grown in raised garden beds. Check that your chosen row cover weighs at least 1.25 oz/square yard. According to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University, this weight will permit enough light for optimal plant growth while still providing good frost protection.

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