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Season extension questions! Toplef10Season extension questions! 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Season extension questions! I22gcj10Season extension questions! 14dhcg10

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Season extension questions!

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Season extension questions! Empty Season extension questions!

Post  jemm 10/10/2023, 7:01 am

Hi, I have some questions about season extension techniques and when to use them. I am in Zone 6a, western Pennsylvania. I made 2 hoop house frames for 2 of my beds and they currently still have insect netting on them. Can anyone provide guidance about when to put on row covers and when to take row covers off and put on plastic? Do I go by specific temperatures or types of frost warnings? Help, please, and thank you so much!


Jemm in Zone 6a
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Post  OhioGardener 10/10/2023, 12:03 pm

Unfortunately, Jemm, there is no magic formula as to when we should add or remove row covers, or change it from frost cover to plastic cover, or vice versa. There are so many factors involved in those decisions, not the least of which is what you are growing in the bed. For example, there are some crops which are frost resistant, and do not need covering, while other crops are very sensitive to cold temps. How long to keep on the frost cover, before replacing with plastic depends on the rating of the frost cloth. For example, AG-19 offers 4ºF of frost protection, while AG-30 offers 6ºF of protection, and AG-50 offers 8ºF of protection. That means that if you have a cover of AG-19, you can safely keep plants from freezing down to temps of 28ºF, or if you have AG-50, you can safely keep plants from freezing down to 24ºF. How much are you willing to gamble on the plants freezing?

As for plastic covering, I tend to put that on early -- an ounce of prevention thing -- rather than waiting to be surprised by an early frost or freeze.  BUT, and a very important but, is if you put plastic on the hoops you MUST be prepared to open the tunnel during the day, and closing it in the evening. If you forget to open it one day you will bake the plants in the heat of the day, and if you forget to close one evening you will loose the plants to freezing.  And then, of course, there are days in the winter when you cannot open it because the temps will remain near zero, and there are days in the fall and spring when you cannot close it because the temps will in the 50's or higher throughout the nights.

The best advice I can give is carefully watch the weather and adjust accordingly. And, keep a daily journal showing what the high and low temps are, the condition of the hoops are, and the results. Next year you will find that journal worth its weight in compost!

____________________________

"In short, the soil food web feeds everything you eat and helps keep your favorite planet from getting too hot. Be nice to it."  ~ Diane Miessler, "Grow Your Soil"
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Post  jemm 10/10/2023, 2:41 pm

Thank you, OhioGardener...much as I dislike numbers, these are helpful! Everything in the bed is definitely cold tolerant to some extent. I think I'll put the frost cloth on...and order my plastic ASAP. I guess a downside of having plastic on is the need to water too.
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