This post is to share a method while also seeking ideas for alternatives.

I chatted about row covers and the reasons for use (micro environment for growing, frost and wind protection while letting moisture through, insect protection). Now, lets chat about the method.

Row covers are light weight and can be floating (rest directly over plants on the ground). For us, that way seems OK for smaller plants (like our lettuces). For plants that will be taller, we use hoops or ribs. Some call them wickets. I have read where 9 gauge wire can be used. We are using fiberglass rods. They are fairly sturdy, but we had several splinter and break under the weight of our last snow. I wonder if wire could hold up?

The rods are more expensive than wire, and I (and others are) am trying to brainstorm ideas for alternatives. Something strong yet bendable, 1/4 inch in diameter, 8 feet long and weather resistant. Anyone have some thoughts?

The other issue is securing the fabric to the hoops. Write ups say to use sandbags, to bury the edge, to use rocks (What? I want the rocks OUT of the garden) or 2×4 lumber. I find some of those methods not very practical. Instead, we use clamps. We have been using a Bessy spring clamp purchased from a local hardware store. Here is what they look like:

These clamps are strong, but I have found that you must be careful with the placement – the winds can really whip the fabric, which is delicate, and the clamps can tear the fabric readily. The cost if the clamps was a dollar each. I ran out of those and came up with an alternative:

This clamp is a small binder clip. I got 144 of these guys from Staples for a couple of bucks. I am sure they will rust severely, but I like how they encircle the hoop. I am hoping that 1) they hold up to the wind and 2) they will be less likely to rip the fabric. I also like the price!

Anyone want to share tips and ideas? Please, feel free.

Now, I have to head out to the garden and see if yesterday’s work held up to the wind and rain…or, will I find a pile of small binder clips and loose row covers…inspiration for another post.

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