Imagine how many more vegetables you could grow if you just had a few more weeks of warm weather! Season extenders are the key to not only getting a jump start on the spring garden and but also for growing fresh greens and other delicious crops right into winter.
I’ve gathered some season extender DIY project tutorials from quick and simple to repurposed and fabulous. Take these ideas and get growing. If you’re hustling to get the garden in order before winter, this should help you prioritize your tasks (and let some go).
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What are Seasons Extenders?
Basically, a season extender is anything you can use to protect your plants from weather extremes. Many vegetables actually thrive in cooler weather but it’s the damp and bitter cold (especially the freezing ice), that kill the plants.
Season extenders can be rigged up with all sorts of supplies, many of which you may already own, to ward off threatening conditions.
Years ago I was staying on a farm with a large kitchen garden and an early first frost was in the forecast. As soon as the hostess heard those words on the radio (yes, it was years ago), she ran to the mudroom, grabbed every coat on the hooks, and headed out to the garden to cover the most tender crops.
By morning, the ground was warming again and off came the coats. That’s more an example of an emergency cloche than a season extender per se, but you get the idea. Coats and blankets work in a pinch for temporary situations, and longer term solutions like the ones you see below help continue the growing season for weeks, months, or, in some cases, right through the winter.
Managing Season Extenders
- For short term solutions (overnight), light is not really an issue and you can use anything that fits around the plant, keeping the warm air in, without crushing anything.
- Longer term solutions (more than a day), require transparency to allow light in, air circulation, and the containment of warmth.
- Season extenders do require your attention as the weather fluctuates. On warmer days, I pull off the covers and give the plants some open air and sunshine. By evening it’s usually time to tuck things in for the night, placing covers back on to retain some warmth.
- You’ll also need to pay attention to water needs. Growth is slow in colder conditions but the soil can still dry out. Water as needed.
Season Extender Options
These links go to examples at Amazon.com via my affiliate account. First I’ll show you some options for materials. The project tutorial links are in the next section.
Buy it Here
- Glass or plastic cloches, jars, bottles (for individual plants).
- Floating row covers.
- Clear umbrellas (see the example below).
- Transparent storage bins.
- Polyethylene sheeting (or similar material), weighed down with rocks, or supported with PVC pipe or hog panels.
- Old windows or polycarbonate panels over a raised bed, straw bales, or built into a protective structure.
- Full-size polytunnels, greenhouses or conservatories.
Season Extender Project Tutorials
Click through on the links to get details on how to make these projects:
1 Umbrella seed starting mini greenhouse | Garden Therapy
2 Turn a raised bed into a cold frame | Sensible Gardening & Living
3 $50 DIY polytunnel | Sow & Dipity
4 DIY polytunnel greenhouse | Empress of Dirt
5 Polytunnel made from hog panels | Flower Patch Farmhouse
6 DIY Mini Greenhouse from old windows | Empress of Dirt
7 Repurposed window greenhouse-conservatory | Our Fairfield Home & Garden
And there you have it. Lots of options and many of them cost very little but do a lot to extend the growing season.
Gone are the days when gardening started after last frost and ended in early fall. With a few simple additions, you can keep growing all year round.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
- Flower Seeds | 25 Flower Seeds to Sow in Fall
- Flowering Bulbs | 20 Flower Bulbs to Sow in Fall
- Quick-Growing Cool Season Veggies | 20 Quick-Growing Veggies
- Late Season Seed Sowing | When is it too late to sow seeds?
- Forcing Bulbs Indoors | When to force bulbs indoors (how to get the timing right)
- Plant Tags & Markers | Plant tags that are tough enough for winter weather
- Cool Weather Veggie Growing | My simple system for fall herbs and veggies
- Jump-Start Your Spring Garden in Fall | Do these now and you’ll thank yourself later