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Barbara Pleasant:

Home-Sewn Plant Protection

Strips of tissue paper placed under plastic sheeting helps to advance the work, keeping stitches even.

Protecting Plants from Wind

Conditions get pretty windy in my hillside vegetable garden, which is at about 2700 feet. Especially in winter and spring, the wind can howl at 30mph for days, which is torture on plants. Sheet plastic quickly blows aways, but fabric vegetable garden row covers filter wind, but don't try to stop it. When it comes to protecting plants from wind, fabrics are more secure than plastic, safe from overheating, and much easier to handle.

More Pleasant Reading On Row Covers


At Mother Earth News:

The No-Spray Way to Protect Plants

At GrowVeg.com

The Mess of Protecting Plants from Stress

If you can thread a needle, you can make your own garden plant protectors from plastic or fabrics.

April, 2011


I learned to use a sewing machine when I was a little girl, and those skills come in handy in spring, when I sew plastic or fabric vegetable garden row covers and cloches for the garden. My 1953-model Singer (restored by Alpine Sewing Company) is up to the task, or you can use a needle and thread and sew by hand. Either way, using a few special techniques will make your plant protectors turn out right the first time.


Use perpendicular pins. Before you sew plastic or row cover pieces together, pin the edges. Place pins at right angles to the future seam, about 8 inches apart. Take them out as you sew.

Use long stitches. Whether you’re stitching spunbound row cover, tulle or other featherweight fabrics or plastic sheeting, long basting stitches work best.

Use a paper backing. My sewing machine can’t grip plastic or other slippery fabrics to properly advance the stitches, and push-pulling it through by hand is a good way to break a needle. Placing strips of tissue paper under the layers of plastic solves this problem, and the paper tears off easily. In a pinch, I have even used toilet tissue with good results.

When sewing by hand, work only with the finished edges of tulle, row cover or other very lightweight fabrics. The long “selvage” edges of fabrics are reinforced, so you can sew them together with a needle and thread. Three years ago I hand-stitched a large tulle row cover for my vegetable garden, and the seam is still holding.

I sewed two covers for the outdoor plant shelf where I harden off seedlings – one made from plastic sheeting, and another made from a featherweight chiffon type fabric I found as a remnant. The home-sewn fabric plant protector tames the wind and adds slight warmth, so it gets the most use. I add the plastic cover to protect plants through cold spells.


Click to this page for more pictures and information on vegetable garden row covers.  Also see Bagging Apples with Tulle.

Restoring Quick Row Covers

Several years ago we bought a set of Quick Row Covers from Lee Valley, which have proven to be very handy vegetable garden row covers. The plastic gradually fell apart, which is what pushed me to learn how to sew plastic. I also made a few replacement cloche covers from row cover and lightweight fabric. I’ll use them to protect plants from wind in warm weather.