There is nothing quite as satisfying as eating food right out of your own garden. While most people have a garden during the summer time, it is quite uncommon for people to garden during the other seasons. Extending your growing season is a great way to provide fresh produce for your family year round.
How much gardening you can do during the year depends a lot on your climate and your budget. If you live in the south, you may be able to extend your gardening season without too much effort or money investment. If you live in the north, you might need to invest some money in order to be able to extend your gardening season. Here are some inexpensive ways to help extend your gardening season.
One of the easiest and cheapest way to extend the gardening season is to purchase plastic sheeting to cover the rows of your garden. You can find this at feed stores, or gardening supply stores. You can also purchase it online.
Simply plant the seeds in the ground and then cover the row with plastic sheeting. Use rocks to keep the plastic in place. Not only will the plastic warm the ground and help the seeds to grow, but it will also keep them safe if there is a frost. Here is the tricky part of using the plastic: you want to take it off early enough so that the plants don’t die from overheating, but not so soon that they die because of a late frost. Some gardeners remove the plastic during the day to prevent overheating and then cover the plants at night until the danger of frost has passed.
A “lean to” can also be used to start plants during the cold winter months. To start your plants using this method, you can use plastic that has been stapled to a frame or even an old window. First, lean the frame or the window against the house. Then, create a frame to hold the lean to in place. I have used old pieces of scrap wood to create a frame for my lean to. I’ve also used large rocks and laid them out in a square shape.. Then, I’ve put the frame or the window on top of the rocks. Both ways work equally well. If you use a lean to, it is important to vent the structure during the day or you could kill your plants. Simply prop the window or the frame open a few inches using a rock or a piece of wood.
I have also had success extending the growing season by using plastic containers like soda bottles and milk jugs. To use this method, cut the bottom off the plastic containers. Recycle the top part of the container but keep the bottom part. Place the cover over the plant.
You can use these methods to extend your growing season in the fall as well. Keep in mind that it may take longer to grow the plants in the fall. For example, plants that say that they mature in 60 days may take longer to mature.
For fall planting, it is best to plant cool weather crops, unless you have a permanent heated structure in which to grow your plants. Lettuce, peas, onions, broccoli and cabbage all do very well for fall plantings.
Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works in your garden and what does not work. After a little bit of trial and error, you will be surprised at the successes you will have growing your own food in the spring, summer, and fall.