by Sandy Swegel
We’ve had a couple of snows in Boulder now so it’s pretty hard to pretend the garden season isn’t over for most of us. Too late for seeding fall crops or putting up a big hoop house. But while we can’t extend the growing season, there are still sneaky ways to extend the season to harvest food and herbs.
There are two things we have to protect our gardens from, Frost and Critters.
Here in Zone 5 our daytime temperatures are still well above freezing and downright balmy in the 60s at times. But nighttime dips to the 30s can ruin vegetables and fruits still on the vine that otherwise might keep growing in warm daytime weather.
My 4 totally FREE season extenders to protect against frost are:
Old worn bed sheets (love the flannel ones with cartoon characters) lightly laid over anything that might be hurt by freezing. This includes vegetables (like green beans and squashes) and herbs.
Plastic bags of leaves Last week I reminded us to leave leaves on the garden bed….so these are bags of leaves your neighbor left out for the garbage. 🙂 Just quickly throw the bags over root vegetables as temperatures keep dropping to keep the ground from freezing. As long as you can dig in the soil, your carrots and turnips and beets are still yummy! Two bags of leaves squeezed around the basil patch are keeping basil alive.
Upside-down garbage cans I’m keeping a pepper plant going in cold temperatures (I want them to turn red) by putting clean garbage can upside down over it at night. It doesn’t take much to protect against 29 degrees cold…just a pocket of air.
The Most Important Season Extender in my Neighborhood: A Roll of Chicken Wire. This fourth season extender is free only because I robbed it from a dumpster years ago!
The biggest obstacle right now to extending the season for squash to pumpkins are the (expletive deleted) squirrels and raccoons. They love nothing better than sitting down to dinner on my pumpkins and gnawing holes through to get to the seeds. A barrier of chicken wire hooped and secured over the ripening fruit is the only hope.
Plants in my free season extenders aren’t growing much….but they are still alive and producing nutrients…better than their fate in the back of my refrigerator.