Season-Extending Gardening Tips

In many areas of the country, the growing season often seems too short for avid gardeners. Keeping your garden productive year-round is possible, but it can mean an investment in time and money. 
 
Take note of these season-extending gardening tips to reap what you sow throughout the spring and fall.

 

Start Seeds Indoors

Research the estimated date of the last frost in your region by checking online or with your local extension office. Also reference seed packets to see which ones do best when started indoors. You can determine the best time to start seeds indoors by counting the appropriate number of weeks back past the estimated last frost date.

 

Raised Beds

While raised beds take some effort and time to create, building them before the season begins or ends can lengthen your spring and fall growing seasons. The soil in these beds stays warmer than ground-level soil for far longer. It's also easier to cover plants in raised beds in case of an unexpected frost.

Cover the Ground

Dark or black plastic mulch, sheeting or landscape fabric will help keep chilly spring soil warm, while inhibiting weeds growth. Heat-loving plants such as melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash and eggplants will welcome the warmth when getting started.

 

Cold Frames

Specially designed garden fabrics can be used to create protective covers that trap warmth, while allowing plenty of sunlight to reach plants. The lightweight fabric can be draped directly over each row of plants or supported by wire, PVC pipe or wooden frames.
 
-  All-purpose garden fabric allows about 70% of sunlight to reach plants, while offering protection against frost damage down to approximately 28' F. It keeps insects out while allowing rain to reach the soil.
-  A heavier version offers more protection against frost (to about 24' F) and allows about 60% of sunlight to reach plants. Both fabrics are ideal when planning to start your growing season early or extending it well into fall.
 
 
By trying these simple season-extending techniques, you can protect your garden from extremes of weather, while extending your gardening season.