Fall is in full swing, which means that many of us have accepted that the growing season is coming to an end. Some of us, however, refuse to accept that because we just aren’t ready to say goodbye to all the hearty, yummy, homegrown produce we’ve been feasting on. There are several ways to extend the growing season of your favorite veggies and herbs. Try out these season extenders and keep on enjoying that garden produce well into the colder months.
Here are some simple things you can do to keep your garden growing and producing into fall and winter.
Mulching keeps the soil at the base of a plant warm so that it takes longer than usual to freeze when the temperature drops. You can use bits of bark, wood chips, cardboard, straw, or canvas sheeting as mulch. The thicker the layer, the more protection your plant has against freezing. Mulching is a great, very simple season extender and it is also a good way to protect more delicate plants such as herbs over the winter.
These domes come in many varieties, from plastic to glass to fold-up umbrella-style cloches. Place one over top of an individual plant to shield it from early frost and keep it warm, happy, and growing longer.
Row covers are simply large swaths of a breathable, lightweight material used to cover and protect multiple plants in a row or bed. You can use lightweight, flexible plastic, netting, fabric, or garden-specific covering material draped gently over the plants you wish to protect. This is a great option if you are taken off guard by cold weather and need something really quick and easy to protect your plants from frost. You can also build a more substantial “hoop house” over a garden bed by draping your row cover material over a structure made of PVC pipes bent into horseshoe shapes.
Cold frames are raised beds with a removable cover, often attached by a hinge. Cold frames are a great way to begin your growing season early because you can plant directly in them in the early spring when it is still cold out and the cover will keep plants protected. Cold frames are also great for growing winter veggies and will allow you to harvest and eat some vegetables well into the holidays or even all winter long, depending on your zone.
Greenhouses, of course, are the most effective way to extend the season as they offer a ton of protection. There are many different versions that you can make or buy for home use, such as this upcycled window greenhouse.
More fall and winter garden projects: