Gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby, but it can be frustrating when your plants only produce during a short window of time. If you find yourself with a glut of summer tomatoes or peppers that ripen all at once, don’t despair!
There are several things you can do to extend the growing season for your garden produce. With a little planning and effort, you can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden well into autumn.
If you love fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden but find that they only ripen during a short window of time, don’t despair! With a little planning and effort, you can extend the growing season for your garden produce. Here are 9 tips to help you get started:
- Select the right varieties. Some plant varieties are bred to mature more quickly than others. When choosing plants for your garden, look for “early,” “midseason,” or “late” varieties to help spread out your harvest.
- Start early. Many vegetables can be planted as early as February or March, even in cooler climates. By starting early, you’ll be able to harvest your crops earlier in the season.
- Use row covers. Row covers are thin fabrics that can be placed over rows of plants to protect them from frost or pests. They can also be used to create a mini-greenhouse effect, trapping heat and moisture around the plants to promote growth.
- Put up a cold frame. A cold frame is an easy-to-build structure that helps extend the growing season by protecting plants from cold weather. Cold frames can be made out of recycled materials like old windows or storm doors set atop a raised bed or box.
- Water in the evening hours. Watering your plants in the evening helps reduce evaporation and provides them with moisture throughout the night as they conduct photosynthesis and grow roots.
- Use mulch to regulate soil temperature. Mulch is any material—such as straw, leaves, grass clippings, or bark—that is spread around plants to protect them from extremes of heat or cold, conserve moisture, and prevent weeds from germinating.
- Plant fall crops. In addition to extending the growing season for your current crop, planting fall crops like spinach, kale, and radishes in late summer will give you something else to look forward to coming autumn. Not sure what to plant? Check out this list of fall vegetables organized by planting date .
- Harvest regularly. One way to keep your plants producing is to harvest them on a regular basis. This stimulates growth hormone production, which encourages the plant to put out more fruit or vegetables. Just be sure not to stop harvesting too late in the season, as this can cause some varieties of plants to go dormant.
- Protect against frost. Frost can damage delicate plants and shorten the growing season. To avoid this, keep an eye on the forecast and take steps to protect vulnerable plants if a frost is predicted. You can use row covers, tarps, straw, or sheets of cardboard placed on top of plants overnight. In a pinch, you could even bring them inside !
By following these tips, you can extend the growing season for your garden produce and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables well into autumn! With a little planning and effort, you can have a bountiful harvest that lasts all season long!