Floating row covers consist of lightweight opaque material which is draped
over the garden bed. Sunlight and water go through, but insects and birds
are kept out. The material is so light that the growing plants simply
push it up as they grow - like Jiffy Pop popcorn. The edges of the row
cover need to be anchored with rocks or boards or the wind will lift it.
The material is "spun" which resists tearing, but usually begins
to break down after a few years. Row cover material comes in rolls so
you can make a continuous cover no matter how long the garden bed.
Row covers are great for protecting seedlings. They are even more useful throughout the growing season when placed over vegetables such as carrots, beets, broccoli, swiss chard and spinach because it makes an effective barrier against flying insects looking for these plants to lay their eggs on.
Cloche: The cloche is like a miniature greenhouse for your seedbeds and young plants, and acts as a barrier against pests. Unlike the floating row cover, however, the cloche has to be opened on hot days and for watering, and this presents an opportunity for pests to find the plants. But because the cloche helps seedlings and young plants get well established, the enhanced natural resistance of stronger healthy plants is the best defence against pests and disease. Click here for more info or for plans to build your own portable garden cloche.