It’s hard to think that Summer is drawing to an end, but that doesn’t mean that you need to stop gardening.
Did you know that there are lots of tasty greens that you can plant now and still harvest in the late Fall? Quick growing and cold hardy plants such as kale, arugula, and cold hardy lettuce varieties can survive mild to moderate frosts without protection. Cabbages, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots are all frost resistant but may need a little extra protection to reach full maturity. A layer of greenhouse plastic, row cover, or some extra fluffy straw can help protect plants. Raised beds or gardens on a slight slope can also help protect from frost pockets.
Cold frames are a great way to extend the garden season. They are often south facing and made from layered greenhouse plastic or glass. Straw bales can be placed around them to help insulate the already established veggies. Cold frames can also be below ground level; the garden beds are dug down into the ground, covered with glass or plastic, and covered at night with a sheet or blanket to trap the heat from the ground. I know of a few folks in Fernie harvesting their carrots in January by using cold frames! While the carrots are no longer growing, they can still stay fresh and crisp well into the winter.
Passive Solar Garden Heaters
Passive solar garden heaters are great for spring and fall as help trap the heat of the day to be released at night. They can help warm the soil for seed germination or help protect plants from hard frosts. They can be as simple as half buried large rocks or small boulders to a more elaborate system using deep wells dug into the ground with air or water circulated through piping.
Putting Gardens to Bed
Are you just done with gardening for the season? Well now is a great time to prep your beds to get a jump start on next season! Adding “slow” nutrients to your soil such as compost, straw, leaves, and grass clippings can allow for slow decomposition over the fall and winter so you’re ready to go in the spring! Please consider leaving dead or dying plants in the garden instead of throwing them in the compost pile. While it might be a nice visual to have fully cleared bed, the roots of the dead plant provide important habitat for soil organisms over the winter and the stalks a place for beneficial insects to overwinter.
Happy harvesting and see you next season!