Lettuce, spinach, radishes, turnips, and beets are
quick to mature from seed to harvest. Plus, the cooler temperatures
enhance their flavor. Simply count the number of frost-free days
left in your growing season and compare it with the number of days
from planting to harvest listed on the seed packet.
Protect these late plantings and other vegetables from chilly fall
temperatures with cloches, coldframes, and floating row covers. Many
of these devices have long been used by gardeners to jump start the
season in spring and extend it much later into fall. These devices
trap heat around the plants, protecting them from frosty
Convert gallon milk jugs into garden cloches for individual plants.
Remove the bottom of the jug and slide it over the plant. Use the
cap to capture heat or remove to ventilate your homemade cloche on
sunny days. Or purchase reusable cloches with built in ventilation.
Originally made of glass many of the newer cloches are plastic,
making them more affordable, easy to stack and portable.
You can make your own coldframes. Many gardeners convert discarded
windows, a bit of lumber and nails into a homemade shelter for their
plants. The window size usually determines the size of your
coldframe. Just make sure you can reach all the plants inside. For
best results your frame should be higher in the back then the front
so water and melting snow can drain off. And if possible, facing
south for better warming. The internet and garden books are filled
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I prefer the construction-free, all-purpose garden
fabrics. Simply drape these floating row covers (season-extending
fabrics) over your crops. Anchor the edges with rocks, boards, or
wire wickets. The fabric traps heat around your plants, but allows
air, light and water through so there is no need to uncover the
plants during the day or for watering.
Increase the ease of season-extending fabrics with
low and tall frost pop-up covers and plant protection frost covers.
The frames are fitted with all-purpose garden fabric to create
protective tents. You can protect new plantings and extend your
harvest by protecting plants down to 24 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, with a little preparation you can keep enjoying
fresh-from-the-garden flavor long past the traditional end to your
[Photo credit: Melinda Myers, LLC]
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including
Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melindaís
Garden Moment TV and radio segments and her website,
features gardening videos, podcasts, audio tips and monthly