Baby Step 40: Extending Your Growing Season

Days have gotten shorter and the evenings have gotten much cooler. Autumn has arrived and the first frost in very near.

My beans, jalapeno peppers and tomatoes are still producing. However a hard frost is very near. I ‘m a fighter and protector of my garden kingdom. It’s time to get ready to extend the growing season.

Extending Growing Season Tricks:

Lettuce, radishes and spinach once again: These vegetables  germinate quickly in late summer and have a very quick growth cycle. Plant varieties that are ready for harvest within 30 to 40 days. Sow your seeds a month before the last estimated frost. Keep soil moist to ensure quick germination, growth and maturity.

Transplanting to containers: Transplant herbs and hot peppers into containers to be moved indoors before the first killer frost. These plants will continue to produce throughout the winter months. Water the plants well two days before and immediately after transplanting. Keep soil in the container slightly moist.

Row covers: These lightweight insulating cloths cover and protect plants from light frost while allowing moisture and light to penetrate. Cover plant beds like beans, and lettuce or drape over staked tomato plants. Leave covers on throughout the day warming the surrounding soil, promoting faster growth even during days with cold nights.

Blanket and bucket frost barriers: The safest bet when the forecast calls for a hard frost is to gather the baskets, blankets, and buckets. Decide what plants need to be saved for a bit longer and cover them with two layers of blankets. A waterproof tarp is perfect for the top cover. Use baskets, boxes and buckets to first place over bush type plants preventing crushing before wrapping them with a blanket. Start covering plants early while the sun is shining, heating up the blankets and soil underneath.

Better safe than sorry: It is better to cover your plants if you think it might freeze than to assume it will not.  Depending where you live, you may have to cover your plants two or three days in a row before a warm weather pattern moves in. You may not need to cover your plants again for a week or two until the next frost warning.

Each day the vegetables are protected beyond the first frost is an added opportunity to increase the harvest.

Take a baby step – plan to extend your growing season.


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