It seems like only yesterday when I put my little tomato and pepper sprouts outside to grow. With a few warm weeks left in the growing season, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your garden for cooler weather – particularly if you’d like to extend your gardening season.
There are a several easy ways you can keep producing fresh vegetables and lettuces into cooler months that don’t require a ton of investment or time.
Grow Plants That Like Cooler Weather
Most of us think gardening is just for warm summer months, which is totally not the case. You can extend your growing season by simply planting a fall garden, which you should start sometime in August. Many lettuces, squashes, root vegetables and peas thrive in cooler conditions. Talk to your local greenhouse staff or do a little research to see which cool weather plants will do best in your growing zone.
Get a Cold Frame for Your Garden
Protect your plants from cold winds and snow with a cold frame. These wooden boxes have glass doors at the top allowing sunlight and warmth in while keeping the winter elements out. You can either purchase one at your local hardware store or build one with scrap materials available from around your home.
Build a Hoop House
Cold frames can be expensive, and hoop houses offer a bit of a cheaper alternative. Make sure not to go too cheap though. Purchase a thick plastic to cover your frame with and make sure you can open it up for ventilation. To keep the extra warmth and moisture in, cover the soil with hay or mulch. These work really well for moderately cold climates, but probably won’t work in colder areas that get a significant amount of snow.
Cover Desirable Plants with Hot Caps
Think of these as tiny, individual hoop houses. You can pick up Styrofoam or plastic ones at most hardware or garden centers. However, if you’re trying to save a few smaller plants or start some seedlings in the spring, milk jugs or two liter bottles can serve the same purpose for much cheaper.
Purchase a Greenhouse
For you serious green thumbs out there, you might want to consider purchasing a greenhouse. When paired with a heater and a ventilation system, greenhouses can provide year-long gardening even in the harshest conditions. The drawback though is the cost. If you want this type of system, be prepared to shell out some serious cash.
The great thing about most of these ideas is that you can use them in the springtime too so you can get a jump-start on garden season. Plus, most of them don’t cost a whole lot of money to buy or make. Give one of these methods a try to extend your gardening season this year!
How did your garden do this year? I’d love to hear about it! Share your experience in the comments section below.