Gardening is a great hobby – it gets you outside, keeps you active, and there’s the great reward of fresh veggies! Of course, towards the end of summer, and as we drift into the fall, we know the fateful ending of the gardening season with the coming of football & frost.
However, you are still able to grow a wide variety of things through the fall. Some crops are frost-tolerant – spinach, kale, and garlic will even be more flavorful through colder weather or after a frost! But, if you are deep into Autumn & fear a hard frost, or even a freeze, you may want to take some precautions to protect your plants – or you can drastically extend your growing season with some of the following options.
- Frost Blankets are a great option in the beginning or end of the season to provide protection from frost. Heavyweight frost cloth offers 10° of protection, so your plants should be safe down to almost 20°! Be sure to secure the blankets to something, or hold them in place with stone or bricks so that they don’t blow away.
- Low Tunnels are basically mini-greenhouses that range from 4-8 feet wide & could be 100s of feet long. These tunnels can be covered with greenhouse poly (plastic), frost blanket, or even shade cloth in the summer. Low tunnels help you get a jump-start on the season & can help to extend your growing seasons as well. If you go this route, it’s also smart to run some irrigation through the tunnels to keep everything as low-maintenance as possible.
- Coldframes can be a more-advanced unit like this one pictured below with an arm that automatically raises to vent, to something as simple as an old window nailed onto a makeshift frame – as long as it keeps the frost off & keeps the plants above freezing, you’re good!
- Hoophouses – A lot of people group coldframes, hoophouses, & greenhouses into the same category, but there are some distinct differences. In the grower world, coldframes would usually reference an overwintering house – or a spot where trees are stored over the winter to keep them from breaking their dormancy too early. Hoophouses are greenhouses that do not have any climate controls – they are passively heated by the sun & passively cooled by roll-up sides, doors, and other ventilation.
- Greenhouses, on the other hand, are climate-controlled grow-houses. There is heat provided from the greenhouse plastic or covering, or there is cooling by fans, evaporative cooling, control of humidity, irrigation, fertilizer – most every variable can be controlled & that’s the point – to really dial in on the growing recipe that the growers knows will yield big results.
Not everyone has the money for a greenhouse or hoophouse, but the other alternatives listed above will help you cheat death-by-frost for a few weeks at least.
There’s only a few months out of the year that we can garden successfully, so why not extend that time a little further & extend the cycle of fresh vegetables in your kitchen?
Hope this offers some beginning tips – please let me know if you have any further questions & I’ll be happy to help!
Also, check out the Gardening 4 Gains YouTube Channel here! Feel free to leave suggestions for future videos & blogs below!