As tomatoes and peppers slow begin to ripen, we're busy sowing for fall. In our neck of the woods, the first frost usually arrives around mid-October, so we employ a few strategies to extend the growing season and protect our crops into early winter. Season extension is worth doing, and it's pretty darn easy too. Follow these three basic guidelines to make the most of your growing season.
1. Use Row Cover.
2. Plant Cold Hardy Crops.
In addition to protecting your crops, make sure you're planting the right ones. The secret to growing in four seasons is to focus on cold hardy crops that need only a proper planting schedule and layers of protection. For winter harvests, it's best to have a high tunnel or greenhouse full of greens, but for extension in spring and fall, low tunnels with row cover and plastic will change the conditions within the covered area as if it's been moved south by one or two growing zones. New to growing in the shoulders? Be sure to plan ahead with proper timings of sowings and plantings! Read more about the best varieties to sow for fall here.
Some of our favorite varieties to plant in fall are hardy greens, such as chard, kale, arugula, lettuce, Asian greens, and mustards. August is also a great time to sow root crops for fall feasts and winter storage, including beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips. For a full list of fall harvest varieties, click here. Many of these veggies can be sown successively throughout the month, and although they are cold hardy, the use of row cover when temperatures dip will help them thrive. Plus, don't forget that fall is the time to plant cover crops, garlic, and flower bulbs.
3. Move your garden indoors.
It's true that not all crops will survive the end of winter, and we end up having to say goodbye to some of our favorites. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of sowing, growing, and eating to do even as the days get shorter. Nothing lasts forever, but with proper garden planning, you can get pretty close!