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How To Maintain a Vegetable Garden During the Winter

For some, vegetable gardening is a hobby. For others, it is a way to provide healthy, homegrown meals at the kitchen table. Whatever the reason, make sure you know how to carry your vegetable garden efforts well into the late-fall and winter season with these gardening tips.

Container Gardens

Container gardens provide an easy way to move your vegetable garden indoors, helping your plants avoid the chill of winter. If smaller plants are in the ground, simply dig them up - but be mindful of damaging roots - and transfer them to an appropriate-sized pot that contains soil and drainage holes. A good rule of thumb is to keep plants in the garage or shed for a couple of days before bringing them into a warmer, indoor setting. This will give plants time to gradually adjust to their new environment.

Cloches

Cloches serve as mini greenhouses, or domes, that are placed over each individual plant. This provides vegetables with protection from harsh weather conditions like frost and frigid temperatures, and traps in heat needed for plant growth and soil richness. You can make your own cloche by cutting off the tops of clear plastic containers of the appropriate size - like a 2-gallon milk jug or a juice or water bottle - and turning them upside down, over your plant. It's important to make sure cloches are securely embedded into the ground to ensure a firm structure.

Cold Frames

Cold frames consist of four enclosed walls and a glass or plastic top cover that shelters multiple plants. Much like cloches, cold frames provide heat for plants and shield them from extreme winds, cold temperatures and snow. It is best to position cold frames in locations that receive plenty of sunlight. Also, make sure to let your plants "breathe" occasionally on warmer days so they don't get overheated.

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