Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Heart My Row Cover

As discussed in earlier posts, this year we finally put up the hoops to use our floating row cover which was purchased last season from garden's alive but didn't get used. At first we were a bit skeptical that it would really work but after 2 years of losing our bean crop to the mexican bean beetle we were willing to try.

If you are not familiar, the mexican bean beetle is an insidious little creature that is immune to all but the most hardcore pesticides, which of course we do not want to use on our organic garden. We used kaolin clay last year (under the brand Surround At-Home Protectant) which worked okay but you have to apply it regularly and it is really hard to spray the underside of every bean leaf. So this year, our plan was just to keep them off from the start.

Boy, has it worked so far!! Everything else in our garden has been ravaged by the pests that got a free pass this year with our un-winter but everything under the row cover looks amazing. If you follow us you may remember that we were having problems with pill bugs in this bed earlier in the season. Our hypothesis worked...we worked in more organic material for them to eat and they have left our plants alone ever since.

We plan to use more covers in the future, particularly for the self-pollinating plants like the peppers and the eggplant. Luckily we do have a second cover to use; we just have to put up more hoops first. Seems like garden construction is never finished.

Here is a pic of our row cover all buttoned up. We use garden stakes around the edges and pots at the ends.

Here are what our beans and beets looked like when we peaked underneath a few weeks ago:

Here are our beans about a week ago: (They have NEVER gotten this big before without most the leaves suffering from various degrees of skeletonization). Supposedly they self-pollinate but we are starting to get nervous about that and may roll the cover back for a bit to let the bees in.

 Some of our harvests so far...yummy cynlindra beets. When you cut into them they are the most gorgeous blood red color.

 And here are some gorgeous golden beets waiting to be harvested.

We have only had one sacrifice so far. Something stripped the one and only kohlrabi that germinated in this bed. We suspect slugs. But whatever it was it has left everything else along. Thank goodness for small garden miracles.


  1. I wouldn't worry about the beans. They really do self pollinate. I collect seed from beans that have grown right next to one another and they don't cross. In some areas they have insects that will do this but it seems not in my garden. So all my beans are self pollinating even without a cover. Sadly I'll have to hand pollinate my zucchini that I have under the row cover, but at least they are safe from the borer.

  2. Thanks for commenting! Yes, next year we are going to do our cucumber under a row cover to protect from the borer and the cucumber beetle. We realize that if don't there is almost no point in planting cukes at all. We'll have to hand pollinate too but it will be worth it. But yes, our bean crop has been highly successful this year!