We all know what it’s like. One minute, you’re wondering if you should rig up a little shade protection for the fall vegetable seedlings so they don’t scorch in the blazing sun. The next, you’re wondering if frost is in the overnight forecast. And if the weather changes this quickly for you, imagine what it’s like for your plants.
But your garden doesn’t have to be in thrall to the weather. You’ve planted your cool-season crops — vegetable and maybe flowering, too! — and you have every right to make the most of them, no matter what frosts and unseasonable storms should strike. Take a few precautions now, and you might be amazed at how much more time your cool-season crops can have!
Nobody knows bad weather in the garden like the British, which is perhaps why they have come up with an amazing inexpensive (can we just be honest and say “dirt cheap”?) set of frost protectors. We think of these as “row covers,” those loose sheets of featherweight fabric tossed over new seedlings in spring. (Most of us are not above using old sheets and shower curtains for this purpose, in a pinch!) But the folks at Haxnicks in England have perfected the concept of keeping icy wind and freezing temperatures away from plants. They have come up with a set of collapsible all-in-one tunnels that include metal hoops, lightweight but protective fabric, and closeable ties on both ends. And they’ve done it all for under $25.
So you’d expect this to be some clumsy operation involving stakes that keel over, fabric that rips, and flapping pieces of string. Instead, the Easy Tunnels feature galvanized steel hoops that sink into the soil and stay put — no rusting, no falling over with the first rough wind. You can leave them in place all season if you like! The protective material is heavy-duty UV-stabilized 150 micro heavy-duty polypropylene, which lets air and light penetrate while still keeping the interior of the tunnel about 4 degrees warmer than the outside air. Connect multiple tunnels to protect long rows of veggies, or collapse part of the tunnel if you don’t need 10 feet of coverage. They last forever, fold flat for storage, and add many weeks to your fall and winter seasons. And if you have nibbling critters in the vegetable patch, batten down the hatches with Easy Tunnels and preserve your harvest!
There are 3 types of Easy Tunnels: the Poly is specifically designed for fall and winter, though if you can only buy one model, the Fleece is probably what you want: though intended for use in spring, we find that it also works very well for the rough winds and icy chills of fall and winter here in zone 7. And if hot summers are an issue for your spring veggies and flowering seedlings, the Net model protects against scorching.
Try the Easy Tunnels for just one season, and we predict they’ll become as essential to your garden as mulch and irrigation. There’s nothing so satisfying as watching your crops grow without worrying about the weather forecast!