Thanks to the recession, my sister and I no longer have the option of not growing our own food. Unfortunately, we live in the high desert region of Central Oregon where the hardiness zone is technically 5, but where you have to be prepared year-round for the possibility of frost at night.
Last summer we invested a good deal of labor and some money in creating a protected area for vegetable gardening. A policarbonate wall was erected to protect our plants from the constant drying wind, but the garden’s vertical clearance still allowed for the most damaging of factors: frost. How to cover plants in a 30-foot by 40-foot area with relatively little money? Make a ripstop nylon bungy cover!
How to Make a Nylon Frost Protection Cover
Here is how I made my frost cover: I bought 25 yards of ripstop nylon (the kind that weighs 2 oz/yard) and cut it into two 12.5 yard pieces. I sewed the two pieces together lengthwise to give me a frost cover that was 12.5 yards by a little over 3 yards. That was enough to cover the two biggest beds in the garden. Any bigger than that, and the cover would have been too bulky to put up and take down.
Instead of sewing a hem all around the perimeter of the frost cover, I glued the edges over using contact cement (the video shows how I did that). Then I punched large grommets in the four corners and in a couple other places along the length of the cover for bungie cord hooks.
For installation, I screwed large eye hooks directly into the posts around the garden. One set of eye hooks went in at a three-foot level, and another set about five feet above the ground. This way we could move the frost cover up as the plants grew.
The pictures shown here are of the first day we used the frost cover. We had a medium frost (not so light), which made the cover sag. As soon as the sun melted the frost, the cover bounced back up, but from then on we used the higher hooks and pinned remay around the perimeter of the cover (a better solution anyway).
Notice the black milk jugs around the garden? These are for extra warmth. I spray-painted them black, filled them with water and set them in the sun all day. Then at night, we tucked them under the frost cover to hold off the cold a little longer.