Do I need to Cover my Vegetable Garden?

As an avid gardener, one of the perennial questions that often crops up (pun intended) is whether to cover your precious vegetable or fruit garden. It's a decision that can significantly impact the health and yield of your crops. 

Why Cover Your Crops?

Covering your crops serves a multitude of purposes, each crucial for ensuring a successful harvest. Here are 4 reasons why covering your crops might be necessary:

1. Protection from Pests 

aphids garden pests on a green leafOne of the primary reasons for covering your vegetable and fruit garden is to shield your plants from pesky pests. Birds, insects, rabbits, deer and other creatures can wreak havoc on your crops, nibbling away at leaves, fruits, and vegetables faster than you can say "organic gardening."

2. Climate Control

Covering your garden provides a degree of climate control, especially during unpredictable weather spells. From sudden frosts to scorching sun, a well-chosen cover can help regulate temperature and protect delicate plants from extremes.

3. Extending the Growing Season

For those eager to squeeze every last drop of productivity from their garden, covering crops can extend the growing season. By creating a microclimate conducive to plant growth, you can start planting earlier in spring or keep harvesting well into autumn.

4. Preventing Disease

Certain plants are susceptible to diseases transmitted through soil or carried by wind and rain. Covering your garden can act as a barrier against such diseases, reducing the risk of infection and promoting healthier plants.

Which Plants Need Cover?

While covering your entire garden might seem like a tempting prospect, not all plants require the same level of protection. Here are some examples of plants that often benefit from being covered:

1. Tender Seedlings

rodent nibbling young seedlingYoung seedlings are particularly vulnerable to the elements and pests. Providing them with cover, like the Easy Seedling Tunnels, in their early stages can give them the best possible start in life, increasing their chances of survival and robust growth.

2. Heat-Loving Crops

Plants that thrive in warm climates, such as tomatoes, peppers, and melons, may benefit from the additional warmth provided by covers, especially in cooler regions or during chilly nights.

3. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale can be sensitive to extreme temperatures and moisture levels.  Covering them can help maintain the ideal conditions for healthy growth and prevent bolting or wilting.  They are also vulnerable to pest like butterflies that lay eggs which will hatch into caterpillars and devastate the crop. 

Protection Cover Options

When it comes to covering your crops, having the right tools for the job can make all the difference. Obviously you could battle with lengths of unruly blue pipe and yards of netting but we have some easier to use solutions for you.

Easy Tunnels

The four types of Easy Tunnel offer a convenient and versatile solution for covering rows of crops or individual plants. The tunnel design allows for ample space and airflow, making it suitable for a wide range of vegetables and fruits. They simply concertina out over your crop and back again for watering and harvesting before storing flat ready for the next year.

Micromesh Tunnel - the ultimate insect barrier, use this one in high summer when insects are at their peak.

Net Tunnel - use this one for shading from strong sun.

Easy Poly tunnel - use this one early and late in the season.  

Fleece Tunnel - use this one for frost protection but can also be used to shade from strong sun.

Grower Frame with Poly or Micromesh cover

For more extensive garden areas or larger crops, the Grower Frame with its choice of covers provides ample coverage and protection. The poly and micromesh covers make it suitable for year-round use, shielding plants from pests, weather, and disease according to the season.

Micromesh Pest & Wind Barrier

The perfect foil for carrot flies - protecting plants from pests and strong winds, the Micromesh Pest & Wind Barrier provides excellent ventilation while keeping unwanted visitors at bay. Its fine mesh construction ensures maximum protection without compromising airflow or sunlight.

When to Cover Crops

Timing is key when it comes to covering your crops. While it's tempting to preemptively cover everything as soon as the first seedlings emerge, it's essential to consider the specific needs of each plant and the prevailing weather conditions.

Early Spring

Remember to use your plant protection to cover empty beds.  This will prevent soil erosion as well as warming them up so you can plant earlier.  Once your plants are in spring temperatures can still be unpredictable and frost poses a risk, covering tender seedlings and heat-loving crops can provide much-needed protection against the elements.

Late Autumn

As the growing season draws to a close and temperatures start to plummet, covering crops can help extend their lifespan and ensure a final harvest before winter sets in.

During Extreme Weather Events

During extreme weather events such as heavy rain, strong winds, or prolonged periods of heat, covering crops can help mitigate potential damage and maintain optimal growing conditions.

In conclusion, the decision to cover your vegetable and fruit garden is not one to be taken lightly. By weighing the benefits against the specific needs of your plants and choosing the right cover options, you can create an environment conducive to healthy growth and bountiful harvests. So, whether you opt for micromesh, fleece, or poly covers, remember to cover with care and watch your garden flourish!