37* F outside this morning. A light snow is falling but not accumulating. I wish I had covered my winter bed last night, but did not. So this morning I went down to the garden and pulled the plastic cover over the hoops. I also covered my fall lettuce bed with Agribon light weight row cover. It was a painful task. I was reminded the hard way that I need to wear mittens at that temperature. (Especially if I am taking pictures.) My hands were so cold. They stung for 5 minutes after I went back into the house. Ouch!!
But now the covers are on. We're going to have chilly temperatures for the next couple of days and then it will warm back up. Its been such a balmy fall so fall that it is an abrupt cool down for us. The winter garb isn't a habit yet. By next month, today's temperatures will seem warm as our average December low is 28*.
I am covering my beds when it falls below about 40*F. I have found that the greens I am growing are fine with about 25* to 30*F, so I'm not too concerned with keeping the covers on yet.
My neighbors have been keeping all of their beds covered for a couple weeks now. They have watermelons and peppers growing still. Maybe I'll try that next year.
I've been asking gardeners about their experience with hoops and different coverings. My neighbors found that the PVC hoops are not strong enough and collapse under the snow load we get here. I have also heard that PVC has a chemical that degrades greenhouse plastic covers. My neighbors switched this year to galvanized metal that they bent into shape. These are more expensive than PVC. I'll see how my PVC works. I'm glad I only tried one bed for my first (experimental) year with winter hoops. The row cover I am using is actually a very light weight insect barrier (Agribon AG-15). Not really going to provide much warmth, but I figure better than nothing. Its 10 feet wide, so it easily covers my bed while lying flat. I could buy some winter weight row cover (10x50ft AG-19), but I plan to harvest all the lettuce outside of my plastic tunnel soon.
I noticed that the standard 10 ft wide Agribon product wouldn't be wide enough cover 10 ft long PVC hoops. It looks like the 100x13ft extra heavy weight AG-70 would be a good choice if I wanted to use cloth instead of plastic. At $124 for 100ft, the Agribon product is a bit less expensive than the greenhouse plastic film I have, which is $152 per 100 ft.
I'd love to hear comments on products that other gardeners are using!