Friday, May 3, 2013

Row Covers - Mikroclima and Tunnet

One of my favorite garden tools is floating row covers. I wouldn't want to garden without them.

Over the years, I have written numerous times about the pleasures of row covers. I often receive questions about row covers. One question I get is  "Can I get row covers at my garden center?" The answer is "Yes. Sort of."

There is two different kinds of row covers. The most popular is a bonded  fabric. A popular brand of this kind of row cover is Reemay but there are many manufacturers. This kind of row cover is inexpensive and is typically used for only one season. With great care, we have sometimes been able to get more than one year out of a piece of bonded row cover, but soon there is so many holes that effectiveness is lost and it needs to be replaced. This is the kind of row cover that you will find at your garden center and in seed catalogs.

The second kind of row cover is a woven plastic netting. This row cover is much more durable and designed to last several years in your garden. We have used a piece of this type of row cover for five years and except for being dirty, shows no sign of disintegration. We use this row cover on our hoop house and it will even stand up to snow in the winter, something that the bonded row cover would never survive.

But where to get this kind of woven row cover? That was a good question. I felt guilty showing friends the wonderful row cover in my garden, without a good source to suggest they purchase their own. My piece of row cover had come all the way from Australia. If you are in that part of the world, I'd recommend that you buy it from VeggieCare. But what about those in the US who wanted cheaper shipping? I had no place to recommend.

Until now. I recently found a US source of woven row cover,  SFG Supply. I ordered a piece of row cover from them and they graciously sent me more than I asked for, in exchange for some word of mouth advertising! Their service was very fast and I'm excited to have a good company to recommend for US growers.

Woven row cover comes in several different weights. The basic weight is called Mikroclima. This is perfect for giving your veggies some frost protection and protecting your plants from insects.



Tunnet is very similar to Mikroclima - only a little heavier. This is the type of row cover I have used the last number of years over my hoop house. Tunnet would be perfect to cover cold frames or small greenhouses.



This photo show Tunnet on the left and Mikroclima on the right. You may not be able to see the difference but the strands on the Tunnet are just a bit heavier than Mikroclima. But otherwise, the two products are the same.

There is also a thinner kind of woven row cover that I have not used called ProtekNet It is used for insect protection in the summer, especially in warmer climates when you do not want any thermal qualities.

Woven row covers are more expensive than the bonded row covers. Mikroclima sells for about $2 a foot, and Tunnet for about $3 a foot. But I have bought bonded row covers that fell apart like a paper towel after a month in the garden. I'd much rather spend a little more for a product that will last a number of years.



Right now, I have a piece of Tunnet over our little hoop house cold frame. I also have Tunnet and Mikroclima covering my broccoli and cabbage in my garden. For now they are just lying loosely on the ground hold down with some pipes and bricks but I may get some more flexible tubing to make some hoops for this bed. I have used the floating row cover both ways (with hoops and without) and both ways work. I think hoops  help keep the row cover a little cleaner.

Thanks to SFG Supply for providing more row cover for our garden! I'm looking forward to our best garden yet!

Next I'll share the reasons I use of row covers.

1 comment :

  1. I have used and reused bird netting on fruit bushes but never used anything to cover garden rows. Something to remember for when I have a change to garden again.

    ReplyDelete

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