BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The end is near! You may have some vegetables that you really want to nurse along because it's been kind of a slow year. You maybe have some beautiful peppers that are just turning red and you hate to lose them to a frost. You can protect them for a couple of weeks into the fall by using two different types of devices. The first one is used if you have an individual plant. Say you have a beautiful basil plant that you just gotta have for your pasta sauce. You can put a cloche over it. Cloches are plastic or their glass. They have little vents in the top of them and all you do is place them on top of the plant and anchor them down. They'll protect them from a light frost.
If you want to make a homemade version, just take a 1-gallon milk jug and cut the bottom out and stick it right on top. It works really well.
But most people have beds of plants like we have here. For this, there's different weighted fabrics that you can use to protect the plants. This material here in front of us has lettuce growing under it. The fabric is called micro mesh or tulle. The stuff you have for making wedding veils, tutus. It's great for protecting plants from animals and insects, but not so much from frost. It does let a lot of light through, but when it gets cold, that's going to go through, too.
The next step up is this summer weight floating row cover fabric. This is nice because you can still see through it. It lets in about 85 percent of the light, but it does protect plants from a light frost.
If you are really getting into the heavier frost, like down into the 20s, you want something like this. It's a garden blanket! It will protect plants down to 25 degrees. This blanket, though, will block a lot of light, so you want to put it somewhere where you have plants that are mature, like these peppers or some lettuces. It will help hold them into the fall.
The other key is to make sure you have hoops so you don't let the fabric come in contact with the foliage because that will freeze it. We have some metal hoops that we will just lay the fabric over the top of it creating a nice little tunnel effect.
Would you just put this on at night and take it off in the morning? You could do it that way, but usually, when we are getting into those temperatures later into the month or into October, you probably could leave it on all day long.
So with a little protection, you're going to have some veggies into fall!