Tuesday, March 30, 2010

White House winter garden produces bountiful harvest thanks to Quick Hoops

The White House kitchen garden's low tunnels held up against two-plus feet of snow this winter. As the nation's capital was inundated with record snowfalls in January and February, the First Lady's vegetable garden grew quietly under low tunnels set up on the South Lawn. A couple of weeks ago, the White House chefs lifted the row covers to examine the overwintering lettuce, turnip, and arugula crops and were pleasantly surprised with what they found. See video below.

Learn more about Quick Hoops and season extension, including the USDA's hoophouse pilot program at Johnny's Selected Seeds website.

Read White House blog post on the success of the winter garden by Sam Kass, White House chef.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mice management to avoid pepper tragedy

In nearly every grower's life will come a time of trial. A time when (s)he finishes transplanting the 2-week-old pepper seedlings into cells, places them proudly on the greenhouse benches, and returns the next morning to find virtually the entire crop gone.

The mouse droppings nearby readily explain the mystery of their disappearance. The leaves and even the seeds of peppers are among their favorite early spring treats. Typically, mice and other small varmints seek a warm place to winter over, and the potting shed attached to many greenhouses provides the sheltered labyrinth they seek, amidst the trays and boxes of partially-used supplies.

This tragedy is best avoided by utilizing traps, baits, or an active cat with access to these storage areas the fall before. An even better solution is to store these potting materials in a building separated from the greenhouse, or to delay their delivery until the time of use to discourage overwinter nesting.

The devastation is felt so keenly because, by the time the seedlings are eaten and new seed acquired, the unfortunate grower has lost a full month of growing time.

- Benjamin Wilcox

Friday, March 26, 2010

Product spotlight, April 2010

Sprite' melon

Mini melons are a popular specialty item, fetching a much higher price per pound than regular melons. Customers like them because they are easy to carry, take up little space in the refrigerator, and can be eaten in one sitting. Using traditional breeding techniques, melon breeders have been developing new, smaller varieties to meet market demand. One of the best varieties to come from this effort is the mini honeydew melon 'Sprite'.

'Sprite' melons
are about 4-5" across and weigh 1-1 1/2 lb. They are extremely sweet, with flesh often described as "almost as crisp as an apple." They have a thin white skin that develops a yellow blush when ripe, and they slip from the vine easily when ready. They have good disease resistance to powdery mildew and Fusarium wilt (Races 0, 1, & 2). 79 days to maturity. Available as treated seed only this season.

Melons require soil temperatures of at least 70F, so growers in cool areas should consider starting them on IRT mulch and under Agribon row cover or Hotkaps, until the weather is settled.

Ornamental corn and gourds

For fall decorating, Johnny's has a wide selection of ornamental corn and gourds. New this year is Mini Colored Popcorn, which produces multi-colored ears just 3-4" long. The colorful, dainty ears are a fantastic decorative item to use in wreaths, place settings or table arrangements. They also can be used for popcorn. High-end restaurant chefs are using the small, attractive, popped kernels as garnish

New gourds include 'Daisy' mix, a small gourd in several colors topped with flower-like patterns; and 'Gremlins', a diverse collection of small to medium-sized (5-7+"), warted gourds in vibrant colors and a multitude of shapes. We also have 'Lunch Lady' which is a collection of giant warted gourds that range from 5-20 lb., in various colors and shapes.

Fall ornamentals are an increasingly important crop for many growers. These new varieties are sure to set your offerings apart from the usual fall fare.

Edible flowers

Spice up your salad mixes with edible flowers this spring. The hot colors of nasturtiums really light up a box of greens, and the foliage can add a zing of peppery flavor. Nasturtiums love the cool weather of spring and will continue to produce throughout summer. Johnny's has eight varieties from which to choose, including the new 'Kaleidoscope' organic mix for certified-organic growers.

Crop insurance

No, we're not talking about a federal program. We're talking about HotKaps and Agribon row cover, two inexpensive products that can save your season from ruin in the event of a late freeze, while getting your summer crops off to a great start.

HotKaps are waxed-paper domes that are placed over individual plants to give them an early start and protect them from frost, like miniature hothouses. They have been used by commercial vegetable growers since the 1930s, and the product is the same now as then; it's even manufactured on the same machinery. Anything that has been in use for more than 60 years has got to be good. They provide a 2-4 week head start in the field, allowing plants to develop earlier and stronger. Regular size (6" tall x 11" diam.) are ideal for low-to-the ground, spreading plants, such as cucurbits like watermelons, cucumbers, and squash; king size (9" tall x 11" diam.) work best for more vertical plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Made from white opaque wax paper, they provide diffused lighting around the plant. Small slits are cut into the top by the user for ventilation. As the plant grows, slits are widened while still protecting the base of the plant. When the plants have grown too big for the HotKaps, you can throw them in the compost.

Agribon row cover can also be used to give plants an early start and insure against late frosts. Agribon is available in a variety of sizes and weights for every application on your farm. The narrow widths can be used on hoops to make low tunnels that provide a warm, sheltered environment. A wide blanket of Agribon can be kept on hand and pulled over large areas when temperatures dip.

With Hotkaps and row cover, you can be prepared for the fickle weather of early spring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Steps to Prevent Late Blight for the 2010 Growing Season

Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) occurs commonly each year in many places around the United States and the world. There are steps that we, as home gardeners, market farmers, and commercial growers alike, can take in order to reduce late blight recurrence this growing season.

  • Pull up and throw away or burn any volunteer potato plants -- these sprout from tubers that may have gone unseen in the soil last fall during clean up and/or in the compost pile.
  • Plant certified disease-free potato seed pieces -- do not use seed pieces saved from last season.
  • Grow or purchase tomato seedlings that are healthy -- do not purchase or plant any seedlings that have disease symptoms.
  • Keep plants healthy and thriving to help them stave off disease pressures.
  • Follow recommended crop spacing and soil fertility, maximize greenhouse and hoop house air circulation, reduce insect pressures.
  • Cull any and all tomato or potato plants if they display late blight symptoms by throwing away or burning plant debris.
  • Treat plants with a preventative copper spray. We recommend item #9778, Champ® WG Copper Fungicide (OG).
  • Treat plants with hydrogen dioxide for prevention and treatment of late blight infections. We recommend item #9719, Oxidate® (OG).


In the Northeast US, only one type of late blight is found, so the measures outlined above will help reduce late blight disease pressure for the current growing season. In some parts of the US and the world, two different types of late blight can be found in the same location thus allowing the pathogen to mate and produce oospores which are capable of surviving temperature extremes. In this case, crop rotation is very important in reducing oospore inoculum on possible plant hosts. Crop rotation is important in all growing areas, no matter the size of your garden/field

For more on preventing late blight from overwintering, please read the Johnny's tech sheet pertaining to that topic.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's New At The Farm? 3/24/10

The first day of spring reached 67 degrees and this week it looks like we're back into late winter. The tulips and daffodils are up in good shape, the ponds are free of ice and grass is coming up but the weather looks rather cold and wet. Can't hurry spring; it's finicky and comes when it wants to.

I saw my first killdeer at the farm on Friday last week, although I'm sure they were back before then. Without any frost this year the winter rye we planted last fall is growing; it's nice to see some green this time of year. The ice is out of the ponds and I'm sure the water is warming up. It will be interesting to see if the fiddleheads are earlier this year given the spring like conditions.

Lots of ducks and geese this week and a few eagles cruising around looking for carcasses. Haven't seen any deer yet but I expect they'll be in the fall planted cover crops, speaking of which, I was walking in the fields on Friday when I stepped on something - a turnip of about a pound or a pound and a half - looked good enough to eat. I may go back and get it; I know where it is. Turnips make excellent feed for deer during the winter and they easy and cheap feed, unlike buying bagged feed, lugging them home, spreading them out and etc.

The ducks at home are laying up a storm. We get 7 or 8 eggs nearly every day. I am surprised that no duck seems interested in sitting on them yet. Perhaps they will later in the spring - it's still pretty early. They discovered the pond on Saturday with a trail of bread chucks as a temptation. Daily baths are now the norm for the Muscovies and the Toulouse goose; the African goose and the Call ducks haven't ventured out of their yard yet. I am anxious to see the Calls find the pond; they have spent the better part of the winter swimming in a 55 gallon drum cut down by three quarters.

Ticks are out. I found one on the couch last week and Peggy found one on Annie. They'll be early and they'll be hungry so beware! Chickens, ducks and guineas all relish ticks but even with a healthy population of predators we seem to still have plenty. The tall grass around the pond gives them a place to hide. With the increased activity from the ducks visiting the pond I hope to see a reduction in their numbers although I'm not overly hopeful. I have ordered more ducks; some Pekins to round out our collection and set an incubator full of bantam eggs that should start hatching next week. Peggy's thrilled.

The poly tunnel is filled with all kinds of greens we planted last fall. There's tons of spinach and some other greens that will be ready soon. Let's see; fresh greens mid March through December - not too hard to take. I'm already tired of the greens from the supermarket; I wonder about them at times. I bought some "organic" greens two weeks ago and they still look like they were just picked. Oh well, fresh greens are coming. Parsnips should be available now; I didn't grow any this year. I should - that's one thing I think I'll grow in my garden. Some years back a vegetable grower friend explained to me how they harvest parsnips commercially; seems they pull them in the fall and hold them in cold storage for the winter, then sell them in the spring. Spring weather conditions are often such that they can't get into the fields when they need to so they harvest in the fall. Unfortunately, when harvested in the fall they don't get frosted like they would if they were left in the ground all winter. Therefore they're not as sweet as they otherwise might be.

Speaking of parsnips - I'm headed out into the field to see if we planted any here at JSS last spring.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A slideshow of Johnny's catalog covers through the years

Which cover is your favorite?

Visit Johnny's website to request a catalog.

What's New At The Farm? 3/17/10

Fifty or so Canadian geese flying over my head this morning means spring is surely on its way!

Field planning is taking place now and at a feverous pace. I've received land usage estimates from the Research folks and our breeder and it looks like we'll have a very busy year. No need to plan a big garden this year - I won't have time to take care of it and if I can't take care of it; I won't have it.

My garden is - well, it's not exactly what I had in mind. Our garden spot is in an old pasture; not used for fifteen years or so. One previous owner had sheep on it 25 years ago, then he plowed it and left it, as it wasn't suitable for much. He sold the farm to a developer from whom I bought the land from. My plan was to plow it down, add some organic matter and then seed it down to enrich the soil and break down the sod; It didn't turn out that way.

My neighbors' mother wanted a place to garden so I offered my spot. I fertilized it, I rototilled it and I left it to dry out. My well meaning, but unknowing neighbor borrowed a local dairy farmer's tiller to help dry the soil out not realizing the tiller had lots of weed seed from the corn fields it had been used in. You can see exactly where he tilled, as that's where the weeds were; a healthy dose of lambsquarters, pigweed and velvet leaf. He and his mother planted the garden; not quite like I would have done, but I wasn't there either. Rows were crooked (a serious pet peeve of mine) and weeds were everywhere; they didn't consider weeds to be pests. So I spent all my spare time weeding my neighbors garden to insure weeds didn't go to seed.

They planted the usual: green beans, beets and cucumbers. I asked them to plant me some radishes (my favorite veggie). They planted the radishes in hills; that's a new one to me. I went to get some beets for supper one night and all there were were tops. All in all not something I'd do again. The next couple of years I let them into the garden once I was done picking to glean what was left.

This year, after I take a soil sample and put the cleanings from the henhouses on it, I will till it under and plant a cover for the season, on most of it anyways. There are a few things I'm going to plant: glads for bouquets in the summer, green beans for the freezer and some cukes and zukes - only because they take up so much room. One bed is going to get blueberries and perhaps some grapes, and a new asparagus bed. I've got six blueberry bushes I want to move to a more permanent home than the lawn.

On the rest of the garden - hmmm - which cover crop shall I use? Let's see: I want something that will add organic matter and nitrogen, something that I can seed without a drill, something that is easily managed as I don't have the vast array of equipment the Johnny's has, and something that doesn't overwinter . What comes to mind right off quick is a combination of sudan grass (for OM) and an annual clover like crimson. The Crimson will grow in the understory of the Sudan grass, the Sudan grass can be mowed once it reaches 4-5 feet tall and will regrow some. Cover crop mixes are nice, but if you have a small plot like I do then planting two or more crops at the same time works well too. This combination of crops will be turned under next spring once I decide on 2011's plans.

Until next week, Brian.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Photos, newspaper review, and raffle winners

A Pennsylvania gardener reports great success with overwintering plants grown from our seeds in a recent entry in the Hard Work Homestead blog. The blogger, Jane, posted photos of various types of greens and spinach growing in her hoophouse. Jane says they "look like they were plucked out of a summer garden".

Wow, that makes our day! It's wonderful to receive feedback from a satisfied customer as we continue to develop products designed to extend the growing season.

We also received good press from the Chicago Tribune in an article entitled: 'Garden tools, old and new'. Both the Johnny's Broadfork and the Right Angle Trowel were touted by Tribune gardening columnist and TV host, Sean Conway.

Also, we're pleased to announce the two winners of our raffle from the Northeast Organic Farming Association Vermont Conference last month. Cara Taussig, of Charlotte, VT., and Debbie Mikulda, of Elverson, PA., each won a $100 gift certificate.

What's New At The Farm? 3/10/10

The tenth of March and the signs of spring abounds. Geese are coming back. Grass is coming to life in sheltered south facing areas, and the thoughts of fresh greens are becoming more of a reality daily. The turkeys are getting ready for breeding season; I saw a flock this morning with the males all strutting their stuff. My tom turkey at home is gobbling; he needs much practice. The ducks are getting quite talkative and are laying eggs now. Killdeer should be arriving soon along with ospreys and other migratory birds.

Speaking of ospreys, several years ago I was in Dresden watching the alewives migrate up a local stream in order to reach Damariscotta Lake to spawn. There were three types of birds sharing the feast:

  • Cormorants which work together and seem to never miss a fish; they fly downstream and swim upstream chasing a school until they are at the base of the falls. The fish are trapped so the birds concentrate on gorging themselves. Once the birds have eaten all the easy to catch fish, they repeat the process again and again. I can see how easily they could decimate a fish population.

  • Ospreys get most of the fish they target. There were six or eight that day, some perched in trees overhead and others circling. They would spot their intended target, circle, then go in to a dive folding up their wings and hitting the water with their legs extended and their talons ready to catch the prey. They got perhaps 75% of the fish they dove for. By far the most interesting to watch.

  • Seagulls which were poor fisherbirds at best. They preferred to steal their meals from the ospreys through a constant barrage of harassments. Even after they convinced an osprey to give up their catch they weren't very good at handling a thrashing alewife. The waters just below the falls are filled with alewives and yet the seagulls couldn't seem to figure out how to grab one. Perhaps it was just easier to steal them.

Watching the alewives run is something worth driving down to the coast to see. Usually the locals will know where they're running and sunny, warm days in mid May are best. Allow a couple of hours if there's lots of activity especially if you're watching birds. Peg and I went the following year but they weren't running that day. It was cool and cloudy and, when I asked a local where the alewives were, she replied "in the ocean". Funny. It was a nice ride anyways and we stopped at one of the many greenhouse/landscaping businesses on Route 1. We didn't see any alewives but did bring home a really nice Magnolia tree.

I was in my garden last weekend; it's drying up pretty well. I should be able to get on it shortly if the weather holds. I've got some cleanup left to do before I get it ready for this year. The carrots from last fall are still there and they look fine; I think I'll pull some up for supper. The beets and chard I left fed the deer this winter: works for me.

Until next week, enjoy the spring. Brian

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What's New At The Farm? 3/3/10

Fortunately we got our fertilizer delivered last week as the road posters went up on Thursday and Friday last week. If we hadn't got our deliveries this soon we would have had to wait until mid May when the posters came down before we got our chicken poop. We could have had it delivered elsewhere and then trucked here but doing it the way we did was probably the best choice. It's here and waiting for us to use it. What with the weather pattern so far we may want it earlier than usual.

The fresh snow we got earlier this week didn't stay long but long enough. I've had enough of winter and am anxious to get back out into the fields. There isn't any frost in the ground this year so, barring any major snowstorms, we could be out in the fields in a month or so. Last year we got all our fieldwork done before the end of the season so we'll have a fresh start this year. Nothing worse than starting out the new year with work left-over from last year. Well, actually, there are worse things.

The wildlife report is sparse again this week. Saw an immature bald eagle at camp last Sunday but that's about it. Lots of bird traffic at the feeders; the usual and some Tufted Titmice too. I predict mud season will be a long one this year; that's probably a given. The next month we should start seeing lots of signs of spring: birds returning, flies on the window sills, wasps on warm days and woodchucks looking for the first few blades of green grass. Geese should be returning shortly. It's interesting to see what froze and what didn't freeze and die over the winter - the Brussels sprouts that were laying down before the snow look as good as they did last fall. I think I'll check them out to see if they're still edible. The ones in the fields here at JSS are standing tall, but dead and brown. There's some summer squash in the garden but they look rather petrified.

I was in the field last week and where I had planted turnips last fall they were still there with 3-5 inch roots intact. The deer could have eaten them all winter this year. In what was predicted to be a hard winter for the deer, a crop like turnips that they can graze on all winter, could be the difference between life and death. Unlike feeding grain to the deer, which is controversial and expensive, planting a crop for them can serve two purposes: provide deer feed and a good cover crop at the same time. I think this year I'll plant turnips earlier in the season, like mid August and see if we can get some bigger roots heading into fall and winter.

I was in the garden over the weekend and it was surprisingly dry. I rode through it with my four wheeler and didn't sink out of sight like I did last fall. I've got lots of chicken house litter to get on the garden this spring so want to get to it as soon as I can. I hope to get some of the chicken house cleaned out in the next week or so if I can. Half of the garden is getting a rest this season so it's going to get a heavy dose of organic materials before I seed it down for the season.

Next week I usually take off; before the busy season starts. I think I'll take two days this week and two days next week and call it good. If I can finish next year's fire wood and get the henhouses cleaned out, I'll be doing OK. Got to set some eggs for chicks soon - I can do that next week. The ducks are starting to lay so I can set an incubator full of them as well.

Until next week, Brian

Monday, March 1, 2010

JSS Advantage - March 2010

Just as the sap starts to rise in trees at this time of year, so the excitement starts to rise in the hearts of gardeners and farmers. Whether or not it's time to start planting outside, it definitely is time to get ready for the season ahead. In this issue of JSS Advantage, we'll suggest ways to use your pent-up gardening energy so that you will be well-prepared to fly into action as the weather warms.

Quick crops for early markets

Don't start your markets with a skimpy selection of produce; with careful variety selection, you can offer a wide menu of fresh spring vegetables at your earliest markets.
The key is to count back from opening day with the number of days to maturity for multiple cool-loving crops. If your market opens in May, you still have time to grow at least 18 kinds of early spring vegetables! In most parts of the U.S. and Canada, you need to grow these vegetables in a protected environment such as a hoophouse, under row cover, or in a Quick Hoops tunnel. In the South, you may be able to grow without protection. In case of cold, cloudy weather, the crops may take a little longer than the days to maturity stated in the catalog, so this list gives you an extra 10 days of growing time.

Direct seed 55-65 days before your first market:

Beets The earliest varieties, at 45-46 days, are 'Early Wonder Tall Top' and the monogerm variety 'Moneta', which doesn't need to be thinned. Other varieties, such as golden and Chiogga beets, take 55 days-plus but can be sold sooner as baby beets.

Broccoli 'Happy Rich' and 'Green Lance' produce florets that look like mini heads of broccoli. Popular in Asian cooking or salads.

Carrots Grow the early varieties 'Mokum', 'Nelson' and the organic variety 'Yaya' for slender, sweet carrots 54-56 days from seeding.

Chicories, Endive, Escarole and Italian Dandelion 55 to 58 days to harvest when direct seeded.

Corn salad/mache It takes 10-14 days to germinate, but grows to full size in 50 days. It's a salad delicacy.

Mustard greens Johnny's has a great selection of colors and shapes for making gorgeous mixed bunches in 45-50 days. Or, you can pick them smaller for salad mix.

Kale and collards Better as a fall crop, but can be grown early in places where spring is cool. 50 days to full size, or it can be picked earlier for salad mixes.

Kohlrabi Can be grown early in the North, but is better as a fall crop in the South.

Lettuce Nearly all full-size lettuces will be ready 50 days from direct seeding, or 35-40 days from transplanting.

Bunching onions/scallions 'Guardsman' is the earliest variety at just 50 days from seeding.

Peas, snap 'Sugar Sprint' doesn't need stringing, and is ready in 58 days.

Swiss chard Full bunching size in 50-59 days, but delicious younger as a salad ingredient.

Direct seed 45-55 days before your first market:

Broccoli 'Spring Raab' is ready in just 42 days, and will hold up well as the weather warms.

Greens Arugula matures to full size for bunching in just 40 days, or can be picked sooner as a salad green. Asian greens such as Mizuna, Shungiku, and Pac Choi, also can be grown to full size in about 45 days.

Spinach Among the smooth leaf types, 'Emu' is the slowest to bolt as the weather warms; among the savoy types 'Tyee' is slowest to bolt. They take about 40 days from direct seeding to full size, or can be picked younger as baby spinach. Faster varieties can be planted if the weather will remain cool for the next six weeks or so.

Direct seed 35-45 days ahead:

Radish Varieties range from 21 to 30 days to maturity.

Salad mix Lettuces take about 28 days from direct seeding to harvest at the baby stage. Other greens can be ready in 21 days.

Get your tools ready

Ideally, tools should be cleaned, sharpened, oiled, and put away in the fall. But if you didn't get to it, there's no time like the present. You do not want to start a new season with rough, splintery handles or dull blades. Johnny's has the supplies you need to maintain and revitalize your hand tools.

Wooden handles will last for many years if you treat the wood annually. We recommend that you rub a new coat of Tried & True Danish Oil into the handles. This product, available from johnnyseeds.com, is the same finish that is applied to our tool handles when new. Tried & True finishes are 100% linseed oil, and have none of the solvents or chemical drying agents found in "boiled linseed" products available in most hardware stores.

Tried & True oil should be applied at a temperature between 70F/2C and 120F/49C, which can be accomplished by warming the can in a container of hot water not by holding it over a flame. Use a cloth or sponge to apply a thin coat of the oil to the tool handle and allow the finish to soak in for five minutes. Wipe off until dry, and allow to cure 8 to 10 hours. Additional coats can be applied the same way and with the same curing times. After the final coat has cured, buff the wood. The finish becomes harder and more durable as it ages.

Sharpening tools is quick and easy with the new Rotary Tool Sharpener. The aluminum oxide angled wheel fits any electric drill. A non-turning back plate holds the stone on the blade at the correct grinding angle to sharpen all kinds of hoes, wheel hoes, shovels, spades, and mower blades. For sharpening smaller tools, such as pruners and harvest knives, use our diamond hone.

If you have a broken tool, don't consign it to the scrap heap before you check for replacement parts at Johnny's. We have wooden handles for hoes and wheel hoes, and replacement blades for most of the hoes we sell. See our 'Sharpening and Caring for Tools video.

Do a soil test

Soil tests can be done once the soil has thawed, provided it isn't too wet. For vegetables and flowers, soil samples need to be taken to a depth of 6" to 8". The annual soil test should analyze your soil for pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. For vegetables, the soil pH should be between 6.1 and 6.9. Most soil nutrients are available at a pH of 6.5, but when the pH rises above this value, nutrient elements such as phosphorus, iron, manganese, copper, and zinc will become less available. When soil pH is below 6.5, manganese can reach a toxic level for some sensitive plants.

Soil testing is an inexpensive way to determine what kinds and amounts of soil amendments you need to apply. Not only will it save you money on fertilizers, it also can prevent over-fertilization that results in runoff and water contamination.

Soil tests can be done by your Cooperative Extension service, or you can purchase a kit to do your own testing. Johnny's has pH test kits and N-P-K plus pH kits. Separate tests should be done on soils that look different or have been used differently. Areas where plant growth has been poor also should be tested separately.

The results of the soil test will tell you the major nutrients that need to be added to your soil. Even when those amendments have been made, you still need to provide a shot of fertilizer when transplanting seedlings. Most growers rely on a solution of seaweed/kelp or fish emulsion to water in transplants. The readily accessible nutrients in these products give plants a nutrient boost until their roots get established, thus avoiding transplant shock.

Be prepared for frost

Your meticulous planning and preparation can be laid to waste with one night of unexpectedly low temperatures. Don't let an untimely frost ruin your young crops. Have a supply of row cover that you can pull over the plants when frost threatens. If the night is still and the plants are small, you can probably lay the row cover flat on top of them. If plants are taller or if the evening is breezy, row cover can abrade the plants' growing tips if it is laid directly on top of them. In that case, the row cover needs to be held above the plants on wire hoops or wickets.
In areas where temperature fluctuations are the norm in spring, you should consider planting early crops under Quick Hoops covered with row cover. These low tunnels provide a warm and stable environment where young plants thrive. Learn more about making Quick Hoops.