Row cover, a gardener’s best friend

At the Ames  community gardening plots, there are lots of….well…challenges.  The plots are nestled in a pretty setting between two patches of woods behind the Iowa Department of Transportation.  I loved the way the woods provided shelter on some of the windy days this summer, but woods also provide nice habitat for deer and woodchucks! I’ve heard people complain about deer in Ames, but being an apartment dweller, I’ve never had to deal with their eating habits until now.  So, garden cover to the rescue!  People often ask me, “What is all that white fabric laying around your garden?”

My first garden in Ames was at the ISU Student Organic Farm when it was located on Mortenson Road.  One of the reasons I came to Iowa State was because it had a Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture and I eagerly went to Borders and bought several books on organic gardening.  Row cover was suggested for solving critter problems in the garden, including mammals, birds and insects.   It’s not something you can usually find at big box stores.  This year I found mine at Earl May over on 16th street.

The photo above shows what is also called “floating row cove”r over my little patch of sweet potatoes.  I was pretty sure deer were making a salad out of this after I saw the vines snipped off and hoof prints all around!

I also covered peas and beans (I pulled the row cover aside for these photos so you could see what is underneath.)  I wanted both of these to climb, however, and after inserting some bamboo stakes, it was hard to keep the cover in place.  I finally decided the tender plants were out of danger and removed the cover all together….and…..you guessed it…….SOMEONE snipped everything off!  It doesn’t pay to get careless as a gardener….shoulda kept my best friend right there in place!

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