Learn how to make your homegrown veggies last longer by using our top 5 tips for extending your growing season this fall. If you like to enjoy salad greens, herbs, brassicas and even root vegetables or asian greens, these gardening tips will help you do just that.
1. Cover Individual Plants or Beds
If you know there is a frost coming or a chilly night on the forecast, your quick fix is to cover less hardy plants with, for example, one gallon jugs and plastic milk jugs or cartons, with the bottoms cut off, 1 or 2 gallon plant pots or even sturdy paper bags with their handles anchored into the ground. If you are using jugs, make sure to take them off or at least unscrew the caps during the day so that the plants don't bake underneath them in the sun.
2. Build Hoop Houses or Cold Frames
If you have an entire row of plants on the edge of a garden or even in the middle, you may want to consider building a simple hoop house or some cold frames in order to cover your plants overnight. To build a simple hoop house, use PVC pipes as the frame and cover them in thick, clear plastic. Old skylights or tempered glass windows work well for cold frames - just remember to open them up during the day.
3. Grow Hardy, Late Season Varieties
Choose varies of lettuce, arugula, carrots, beets, brassicas, spinach, and herbs that are hardier and thus do better in colder weather and chilly nights.
4. Use Raised Beds
Although raised beds take some time to build, if you have time before the season ends, they can definitely lengthen your growing season. The soil in raised beds will stay warm for much longer than ground level soil, and can also be much more easily covered in the case of first frosts, than beds in the ground.
5. Watch Your Watering
The correct watering techniques, amounts, and times will make a large difference in the way the roots of your crops will be able to tolerate colder weather. Make sure to always water early in the day because this way the leaves of plants can dry before the sun comes out, and more important--that the soil has time to warm up before the chill of the night. Also, make sure to mulch your plants and beds well so that the soil surrounding the roots of the plants stays warm, as a good much will trap warm air on the top layers of the soil.
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Image: Daniel Gasteiger