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How To Grow A Four-Season Garden – Part 2

How To Extend the Growing Season To Get the Most Out of Your Garden


If you missed How To Grow A Four-Season Garden – Part 1, please take a look at it first, as it contains important background information.


Frost on Tomatoes


Extending The Seasons


Whole books have been written about this subject – good books – so I don’t mean to re-write them here. Think of this as the Cliff’s Notes. But do read the books, too! You’ll find references below.


First, there are several different situations where you might want to use some season extension:


Peppers in the Rain


In the Rain.


Here in Seattle, as in Northern California, rain is the most difficult part of our fall and winter. Rain is ok in the summer, when the heat helps dry up the plants after the rain, and the root temperatures stay warm enough for the plant to fend off most diseases (as long as the plants are otherwise well-nurtured and healthy). But when it begins to get cold (50-60F and below – depending on the crops), rain can become deadly. The antidote: protection from the rain!


Slugs, powdery mildew, and root rot are major problems in the rain. But by covering your crops using the season-extension techniques below, you should be able to stave off these problems. This protection is identical to the protection needed for those whose main issue is snow. (See below.)


Frost on Carrots


In the Frost.


There are different kinds of frosts. The first that come are light frosts, where the garden is beautifully covered in crystals, the frost usually happens in the early morning, and generally all but the most tender plants survive. Soon to follow (within a few days to a couple weeks) is the first hard frost. This is where leaves become crunchy and brittle, flowers drop, and you lose your summer crops. Unless you protect them!


You can extend your summer crops for a couple weeks to a couple of months, depending on where you live and how determined you are. You can do this one of two ways:


  1. You must pay attention to the weather, without fail, every night as it gets colder. And whenever the forecast is for frost, you must cover your summer crops with a blanket or frost cloth. Then if you like, you can uncover the plants in the morning. Or,
  2. You can erect a permanent structure over your crops. This protection is pretty much identical to the protection needed for those whose main issue is snow. (See below.)


Fall and winter crops, on the other hand, should do fine with some frosts. Many will become sweeter and more flavorful.


You can also extend your growing season in the late winter/early spring by using some of these season extension techniques. You may be able to start planting out at least a couple of weeks before your last frost. The first thing you’ll want to do is start your seeds indoors. (Be extremely cautious when hardening off as nightshades in particular are sensitive to shock.) When planting out, the most important things to remember here are: warm the soil not just the plant, and warm the soil before you plant.


Cold Frame, Image Courtesy


In the Snow.


I am admittedly less experienced with the snow, as I have lived in California for the past 10 years. But, I have a lot of book knowledge and I’ve been reading gardening blogs non-stop for the past couple years. However, I welcome any snow gardeners to include their own expertise here.


Just like frost, snow comes with cooler weather. So generally speaking, when you are protecting from snow, you are protecting from the cold. If it is wet snow, you’ll want to protect from the wet cold above all. An additional thing to consider with snow is the added weight added to any structure by the build-up of snow.


Watering in the Cold Rain, Frost, Sleet and Snow.


Basically, you’ll want to keep the soil as warm as you can, and the plants moist but not wet. Plants do not grow (much) in the winter, and the sun will evaporate the water less, so you’ll want to water only when the surface of the soil (1/2″ deep) becomes dry. Updated: Deb G brings up an important point that you still must remember to water plants that are under shelters, as many plants die from lack of water in the winter!


Only water your plants in the mornings, when the plants have time to warm up during the day. And be careful to not water the leaves or stems of the plants – aim for where the roots are. A rule of thumb is that the roots expand as far out as the leaves of the plant. So if the leaves are a foot wide, the roots will extend a foot wide beneath the soil.


Greens Under Shade Cloth


In The Heat.


Surprise! Yes, in many parts of the world (like in our former garden in Northern California), it is too hot in the summer to grow many things. But with a few techniques, you can conserve water and extend the season of your cold-weather crops. You may even be able to grow cold weather crops all year without bolting.


Season Extension Techniques


The type of season extension you chose will depend on many things: the extent of cold or wind your garden receives, cost, availability of materials, the size of your garden, and whether or not it snows and if it does how much (you’ll have to build a sturdy structure if it is to support much snow).


Cloche Over Lettuce

Courtesy gilltheaker on Flickr


Cloches


The classic cloche is a glass bell-shaped vessel placed over each individual crop. Here is a perfect example of what they look like and how they are used. They hold in heat and moisture, and also protect from slugs and other critters. However, you must watch that on particularly sunny days you don’t scorch your plant in the hot sun, and in particularly moist climates you must watch for mildew (squirting a bit of milk and water on the leaves might get rid of mildew). When it’s particularly hot or moist, you can prop up the cloche a tad with a stick to let a bit of heat out, or you can buy or make a cloche with an opening at the top.


There are many places to buy these, but I would encourage you to find ways of making them or repurposing other objects. Inverted glass cookie jars work very well, Katie has created them out of plastic 2 liter soda bottles, 1 gallon plastic milk bottles work as well, this site has instructions for making it out of a hanging basket, garage sales can often be the best place to find crazy items that will work well for cloches.  Updated:  SusanB suggests clear 3-gallon pails or empty pots as cloches.


Courtesy Through the Looking Glass Garden on Flickr

Homemade Cold Frame by terriem on Flickr


Cold Frames


In Four Season Harvest, Eliot Coleman explains cold frames very well. He and his wife live in Maine, and garden year-round. According to Coleman, night temperatures can be as much as 20F warmer inside the cold frame (average is 7-10F). On a sunny or cloudy winter day, daytime temperatures will be around 10-15F warmer.


However, during the fall and spring sometimes temperatures can spike inside the cold frame, so again, heat needs to be monitored. You can prop open the cold frame with a stick, or buy or make a cold frame that automatically opens when it gets too hot.


A cold frame also protects from rain, wind, and snow. In areas where you have a lot of snow, make sure you have a cold frame with a slanted roof so the snow falls off the sides and doesn’t pile up top (see the one pictured in the “In The Snow” section above).


Making a cold frame yourself allows you to make it any side and shape you like. You can make the sides out of hay bales, scrap wood, concrete blocks, bricks… anything that will keep the heat inside. The top can be made from an old window (like the one pictured above), a found piece of glass, or one bought at a hardware store. You can also put 2 windowpanes of the same size together into an A frame, hinged at the top for easy access on both sides.


Cold Crops Under 50% Shade Cloth

Tomatoes Under Frost Cloth at Seattle Tilth


Hoop Houses


Hoop houses, row tunnels, or row covers, are generally about 3′ wide, or the width of your rows. The length is up to you. You can use thick-gauged wire (my preference), or you can use pvc pipe, wood, branches, or anything else that will create a structure that can withstand wind (and snow, if you have it).* Each hoop should be 2-4′ apart (we found 3′ works best for us). Of course this is only a rule of thumb, for you can make a hoop house as big or small, short or long as you want.


With an armature created, you have many choices of material to go over the hoops: shade cloth (different thicknesses – we use 30% and 50%, depending on the crop), plastic tarps, burlap, frost cloth, bed sheets, etc. What is nice about shade cloth is that you can put it on your greens in the summer, to shelter them from the heat. And in the winter, you can leave them on to protect them from the cold (if you live in a fairly mild region, that is). Frost cloths and thick plastic sheeting will hold in the most heat. If you use plastic, be careful to leave a vent at each end when it is hot, so that the plants don’t cook inside.


These cloths and tarps can be attached with clothes pins, heavy duty paper clips, or clips made specifically for hoop houses. Then the bottom of the cloth is secured with a large fabric staple or stake (found at a local hardware store).


*Note: Eliot Coleman recommends 6.5′ long pieces of #9 wire – you can probably find it at a good local hardware store. Updated: they’re also available at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, in bundles of 10 or 100.


Homemade Greenhouse courtesy of BobButcher on Flickr

Grow Dome by Fluffius Muppetus


Greenhouses, High Tunnels, & Domes


If you have the space, Eliot Coleman gives explicit instructions about how to build your own movable greenhouse. You can also buy a greenhouse, which can be quite pricey (though check Craig’s List, Freecycle, and garage sales). But as Coleman says, “all you need is a minimal frame and a roof that lets in light.”


Be creative!! You can make one just as you would a cold frame, piece by piece, using found windows and other objects. You can make a high tunnel that is basically a larger version of a hoop house, with metal piping or 2x4s (instead of the hoop house’s wire or pvc pipe). Updated: Kirk suggests this very informative site for building high tunnels, along with the plans for one he made (PDF). Kirk notes that the 6-mil plastic needs to be replaced each season or it will begin to crack.


You can also check out Emma’s Grow Dome (above, bottom photo) – she has detailed photos of how she build it. Updated: Rob suggests this fast framer kit for building a quick 7×8′ structure (all you need to buy are 2x4s and the siding).  David also has written a great post about how he made his affordable greenhouse.


Greenhouse and Cold Frames by BrassMonkey on Flickr


If you are in cold climes (USDA zones 3-6), you may want to combine a greenhouse with mulching or a cold frame. Anyone out there who has built a greenhouse and can offer up some additional expertise?


Basil Under Burlap, Heavily Mulched


Mulch


Mulching can help keep moisture in the soil during the hot seasons, and away from the soil during the rainy seasons. It can keep the soil cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. A light-colored mulch will reflect more heat than it draws in, which can be great when it’s really hot. I measured last summer, and our mulched soil was 10-20F cooler than the exterior temperatures (when it’s 110F outside, that can mean life or death for a plant).


If you really want to warm up your soil before an early spring planting, use a dark-colored mulch. Commercial growers use black plastic, but you may have something more biodegradable you can find.


My favorite mulch is straw (NOT HAY, which has seeds and will grow a whole lot of hay around your garden). Straw is cheap and can be found in a local feed store. If you live in the city, you may have to drive to the farming areas outside of the city to find it.


Other good mulches are leaves (which you can collect from your neighbors), grass clippings (as long as it didn’t go to seed), and burlap. I don’t really like bark mulch, because it soaks up the moisture too much – holding in too much moisture when it rains, and soaking up too much moisture when I water. But each of us gardens in a different environment with different needs, so experiment and find out what works best for you.


When you mulch, you want to give it a good 3-4″, or it won’t keep out the cold nor keep in the moisture. Make sure you give nightshade plants (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants) extra room around the stems, as they don’t like wet stems. Trees also need a good mulch-free zone around the base. You can also try to overwinter some crops by covering them entirely with straw, if you live in a very cold climate.


Tomatoes on Blacktop


Taking Advantage of the Environment


There are several ways you can plan your plantings to take advantage of your house, garage, fences, trees, and other things. Here are just a few that come to mind:


  • Tall plants next to your more vulnerable crops will shelter them from the wind.
  • Interplanting cold-weather crops like carrots and lettuces beneath larger crops like peppers and beans will protect the cooler crops from heat.
  • Raised beds will allow for the cold air to sink into the pathways rather than under your plants. This combined with mulching saved our plants from several frosts – you can feel the temperature difference.
  • Planting in the middle or top of a hill rather than the very bottom will have the same effect.
  • A tree will hold a pocket of cold air beneath it. It will also keep out badly needed light during the winter months.
  • A white or light-colored wall will reflect heat toward your plant. This helped our meyer lemon tree thrive in a cooler climate.
  • Bricks and concrete will stay warm long after the sun goes down (but they will take longer to warm up after the sun comes up, unfortunately).
  • A roof or dark surface will draw heat into the soil or into your containers. Our rooftop tomatoes and peppers (above) produced more than those on the patio.
  • SusanB writes that a beach umbrella can shade plants in a pinch.
  • We also found that our epazote weeds kept our tomatoes warm during the frosts.
  • Whatever works!


I highly recommend taking a look at Toby Hemenway’s Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture for more ideas.


Frost Cover Over Containers


Protecting Container Plants


When protecting container plants, you can construct a teepee made of bamboo around your plant, or line your pots in a row and use wire hoops (above). Once you have an armature like this, you can cover it in plastic, burlap, or a frost cloth. You can also wrap a blanket or frost blanket around your pots for extra protection.


If you are growing perennials – like strawberries, small fruit trees, grapes, and so on – and you’re in some of the colder hardiness zones, you may want to bring in some of your containers for the winter. Last winter, Chile successfully brought her tomato plant into a warm patio to overwinter! You can bring them into the garage if they’re dormant, like a tree. But if they’re still growing, you’ll want to put them somewhere where they get a good amount of sunlight.


When you’re ready to put out your plants in the spring, make sure to harden them off, just as you would seedlings: slowly bring them in and out, a little bit more each day, to re-acclimate them.


The same can be true for particularly hot areas. If your heat index is too hot for some of your more delicate plants, you may want to bring them into the safety of your cooler house for a while. We had to do this with our seedlings last summer.


Water-Bath Canning


Preserving


There are many ways of preserving food through the winter, including: root cellaring, canning, drying, freezing, and storing vegetables in the ground. I wrote about sun drying and oven drying last year, as well as water-bath canning. Also check out Chile Chews’ articles on canning and Down To Earth’s articles on preserving. And I will refer you to the books below for further information about these important ways to store food.


What To Read


I can’t stress enough how important it is to soak in information, through books, websites, local gardeners and farmers, and experience in your own garden. Talk to farmers at the farmer’s market, ask local winter gardeners what varieties they grow, get the Farmer’s Almanac for your area, read books and websites, and learn, learn, learn!


Here Are A Few Of My Favorite Books:


  • Four Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman – If you only read one book about winter gardening, read this one. Eliot Coleman and his wife live in Maine (hardiness zone 4!), and they grow vegetables year-round.
  • Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, by Steve Solomon – If you live in a pacific northwest-type climate (rainy, cloudy, temperate, zone 6-9), I highly recommend this book. I’m still perusing it, as it’s loaded with information. Most gardening books have a mid-west climate in mind, so it’s a treat to have a book written for our region.
  • Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway – This is a good all-around gardening book to read after you have down the basic gardening techniques. It also guides you to think about natural wind-breaks, rain and sun covers, and other ways of extending the seasons naturally.
  • Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew – This is a book many gardeners swear by, and it has a small section on season extension.
  • Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth – Not just about seed saving, this book also gives regional instructions for planting, caring for, and harvesting various plants. It’s also a book that will get you excited about gardening!
  • The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Insect and Disease Control, by Barbara Ellis and Fern Bradley – More than anything, this book has been useful for learning about the good bugs you should be happy to have in the garden! But also it is good for the occasional outbreak of disease.
  • Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables, by Mike and Nancy Bubel – Everything you need to know about storing your summer, fall, and winter crops through the winter months.
  • Ball Blue Book of Preserving or Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving – How to can, freeze, and dehydrate your summer and fall crops.
  • Reader’s Digest Back To Basics – This book is a great book to have around, and includes a whole section on “Enjoying Your Harvest The Year Round.”
  • Joy of Cooking – Includes all sorts of preserving recipes.
  • Recipes From America’s Small Farms – Great basic recipes for summer, fall, winter, and spring vegetables.
  • Simply in Season - Another great book of recipes, arranged by season.


  • Updated: Milkweed also suggests Jeff Ashton’s The 12-Month Gardener: “a great resource for general info on season-extension and year-round gardening.”


What Do You Think?


What have I missed? Do you have thoughts, questions, ideas? Please share! Are you planting a winter garden this year? Have you done it before? What tips can you share with the rest of us?


Also, anyone in snowy regions have advice for growing in the snow?


Similar Posts:

23 comments to How To Grow A Four-Season Garden – Part 2

  • Great information, Melinda. I don’t think we’ll worry too much about snow down here since it comes rarely and leaves quickly. And a sheet tossed over the plants on the couple of nights of hard frost saves most plants. Mulch, though, has been a lifesaver in the hot summer months, keeping the soil moist longer.

    Now, if we could just figure out how to deal with wind – especially microbursts during the summer thunderstorms. I just had to remove several branches from the rough lemon tree that had become hopelessly entangled from the last wind storm. They were pulling the branches down to the ground with the weight and pressure.

    I need feedback on my post tomorrow about how people deal with canning failures. Not seals that fail but new recipes that don’t turn out so hot. Toss or not?

  • thanks so much for all this info… we are attempting an early spring planting here and think we’ll go with home made row covers of some kind… probably fencing wire and plastic coverings… to see if we can get some seedlings off to a good early start even with our very late spring frosts.

  • I was always going to take my old portable garage and turn it in to a green house by replacing the top and sides with some heavy mil plastic or vis screen. I ended up free cycling it. But other than that a person could take any portable canopy or tent frame and do the same. On product I found for making a green house frame is a fast framer kit- it makes easy construction using 2X4 lumber and you can use said plastic (although if I were going this far to build one i would use Corrugated fiberglass) and is pretty inexpensive and build a structure 7feet by 8 feet. As for now I cut the bottoms off of 2 litre soda bottles and use them as cloches

  • SusanB

    You bring me out of lurking with this awesome post. I’m in zone 6-7 (depending on who you ask). Most of my season extension experience has involved protecting early or late plants from short dips in temperature or frosts. I’ve found upside down tomato cages are a good way to support night covers. A few years ago I found clear 3 gallon pails at the dollar store which are great covers for individual plants. I’ve also used empty pots especially the ones for large hanging plants or similar (with no hangers) to cover squash and other rambling starts from cold nights. Beach umbrellas are a great way to instantly shade a part of your garden in a heat wave.

  • Jeff Ashton’s “The 12-month” Gardener” is a great resource for general info on season-extension and year-round gardening.

    In the Southeast, there are different challenges/opportunities/methods for 4-season growing – much of Coleman’s book is not really useful for SE growers. I’m still looking for the definitive guide for 4-season growing in the Southeast (zones 6,7). Anyone have any suggestions?

  • Steve Solomon’s “Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades” is a great local resource for the PNW. As is the book put out by Seattle Tilth.

  • [...] This discussion continues at Part 2: How To Extend the Season and Get the Most Out of Your Garden. [...]

  • Thank you so much for the very informative post! I’m going to print out a copy for my computer illiterate hubby and get him to work this weekend!

  • From your “In the Frost” section: “… the frost usually happens in the early morning, and generally all but the most hardy plants survive. ”

    I think you mean: “all but the most tender plants survive.”

    If you use 6-mil plastic to cover your frame, know that it will only work for one season. I once tried reusing the plastic and sometime about mid-February it began to crack. Not much fun trying to replace plastic in 30 degree weather while simultaneously trying to avoid stepping on my plants.

    Here’s a plan for one that is very similar to one I made:

    http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/programs/extension/publicat/postharv/green/small_greenhouse.pdf

    Milkweed: try your local cooperative extension service

    If anyone wants to build a larger structure, try this website for ideas.

    http://www.hightunnels.org/resources.htm

  • Shane

    For me you have to seriously weigh up the value of the crop against the expense and effort to do all this season extension. I am rather enjoying eating more seasonally. After four months of winter lettuce I am pretty much over it, and having a break for the rest of the year gives me time to look forward to it again. It is so easy to grow at the optimum time that I can grow barrow loads of it.

    If you live in a cold climate where you can only grow tomatoes for a short time, then why not grow a massive tomato crop in that one window? Pick the best variety for the season length and bottle the crop when it comes in for the entire year. Preserving your harvest is a totally different approach to extending the amount of time you can spend eating it, which is the ultimate goal of season extension anyway right?

  • Great “cliff notes.” The one thing I’d add is not just to be careful how you water, but to remember to actually water things that are in covered areas. I read somewhere (and found it to be true) that more things die of not being watered than of the cold.

  • Thank you all for your suggestions – please keep them coming!!

    Kirk, Rob, Deb G, and SusanB, I’ve added your suggestions above – thank you. Kirk, thanks so much for the correction! SusanB, I’m glad you’ve come out of lurkdom!

    Chile, wind is tough, especially strong wind. I would suggest any further trees should be planted where the house can shelter it from the main wind direction. As for trees currently in the wind’s path… I’m stumped – I don’t know! Anyone else??

    And Chile, LOL, I hold you up as a great example of a canner, and then you go and write a post about canning disasters!

    Katef, You’re welcome and good luck! I’ll be interested in what you decide & how it goes.

    Milkweed, Kirk has a great suggestion. You can find local master gardeners here, who can point you to your local extension office. Generally they have publications specific to your local area.

    Laura, Thanks – got it (it was hiding). ; )

    Abbie, Tell him it’s not my fault. : ) LOL. I’m glad it’s useful for you. Can’t wait to hear what you and hubby build.

    Shane, Many of these season extension techniques can be very cheap, and require very little effort. I agree that eating seasonally is important. But for me, there is nothing like having fresh, nutritious root crops, broccoli, squash, and greens during the middle of winter. And in northern climates, growing even these “seasonal” crops and greens often requires some season extension.

    In our Geyserville garden last year, we needed shade cloth to be able to have a winter harvest at all. It was so hot through October (and then we went straight to chilly wet temperatures in November), there was no way we could get our seedlings to survive without it.

    In northern climates (even in Seattle this year), we have had such and unusually cold and wet summer that I wish we’d used some season extension as we’ve only had a few tomatoes ripen. When you see your beautiful but green tomatoes that you painstakingly chose and nurtured from seed just rotting on the vine before they ripen, a bit of help starts to sound pretty good. ; )

    Having said that, I should probably have noted in Part 1 of this series that choosing a good variety for your area is important – the Russian and arctic tomato varieties I tried this year did ripen before the others. Thank you for that reminder.

    And I wholeheartedly agree that preserving is an important part of season extension (see above section).

  • EJ

    Yes, the first question to ask is “what is ultimate goal of season extension”?

    Save money, local food, better varieties, more varieties, tastier food, more time for hobby?

    Different answers will have lead to different solutions.

    Here in SE BC snow and heat as well as early and late frosts can be a problem. The biggest problem we would have with winter growing is snow- as in 4+ feet most years- hard to find little veggies under all that snow! So I call it quits in the fall. Will look into starting earlier, tho.

  • EJ, “the first question to ask is ‘what is ultimate goal of season extension’?” This is a good question – thank you for bringing it up.

    I think in the current state of the economy, growing food all year long is an important part of food security, and getting enough nutrients during the winter months when times are tough. Another important thing for me, is to learn how to garden and to adapt to changing weather. I believe this may help me in the future as our times become more volatile due to climate change and the effects of a decline in world oil supply. And thirdly, by gardening in my backyard I’m reducing the number of food miles (ie, carbon emissions) from the farm to the table. California is a long way away, and I’d rather not have my food trucked from there if I don’t have to.

    There are side benefits, too, like the flavor, the sense of accomplishment, and the relaxation inherent in gardening.

    If you haven’t taken a look at Eliot Coleman’s book, I encourage you to do so. You may be surprised at how much can be grown in cold parts of the world.

  • [...] 4-6 weeks before the last danger of frost. You can push it a little bit earlier, if you have cloches, cold frames, frost blankets, a greenhouse, or some other sort of season extension. But if you don’t have those, you should make sure to plant out after the danger of frost has [...]

  • One thing I’ve been pondering through all this is the use of petroleum plastics in the garden. Is it possible to make a hoop house or other transportable garden structure using something other than 6mil plastic sheeting? Or the black mulch fabric I just put down around my melon plants to give them a warmer microclimate to promote good fruit? Greenhouses can always be made of repurposed glass rather than plastic; permanent cold frames can as well. Temporary frost covers can be sheets and blankets; they’re heavier than the plastic options, so they’ll need better support to keep them off the plants. But for a semipermanent structure like a hoop house you want up for several weeks or months, I’m a bit stumped, because while there are things you want to keep out (heat, cold, excess moisture), you want to let sunlight in. Transparent plastic is obviously pretty good at that :-)

  • I found your site through StumbleUpon and I really like what I see.

    I also am working on the goal of eating out of the garden all year long and so far I’ve had something fresh from the garden or greenhouse every single day since Jan. (I’m in middle Tennessee – zone 6) I’m also trying to keep my limited garden space continuously growing something – other than weeds.

    You asked if anyone had built a greenhouse – I have pretty well documented building my small affordable greenhouse here – http://doorgarden.com/10/50-dollar-hoop-house-green-house I call it my $50 greenhouse.

    Anyway, great website. Thumbs up!

  • David, awesome greenhouse – I love it. I will link to it above. : ) It’s wonderful to hear you enjoy the site!

  • Christina, great question – cloches, cold frames, and greenhouses can all be easily made out of glass and reused materials. Hoop houses can be made of many different materials. (I actually don’t use plastic sheeting.) I find burlap to be one of the best materials, though it is not as much protection as the plastic sheeting would be. I also use frost blankets, which are warmer – they hold out some moisture, but you’ll probably want to go with glass for strong protection.

  • Melinda, thanks for the link – I had already added you to my blogroll when I discovered it.

    You know, after using my greenhouse for only one winter I would make this comment to people who are thinking about how to extend their season.

    My cold frame made out of 100% recycled (free) materials is absolutely as effective and productive as the green house which required at least some cash outlay, and in some ways it is really easier to manage – I can prop the lid open and let the rain water the cold frame for example. It is also a tiny project compared to building even a simple hoop house.

    So don’t let money keep you from growing fresh salads all year long – just prop an old piece of glass up on some recycled lumber.

  • I have some experience building a hoop house (13×24) with metal tubing and lumber. You can check out my blog at garden Xing. For those who are in colder climates, zones 3-6, I don’t recommend using mulch during the colder months. The soil should be exposed, or under a row cover inside the hoop house, in order to take advantage of the sun’s heat. Mulch will negate this effect. Only use mulch well after the soil has warmed inside the hoop house. Cheers.

  • hog and Dogs Ranch / Produce

    I really enjoyed your research we also have items all year long that are not supposed to grow its just the level of your commitment to your garden weather you will succeed or not great information and inspiration keep it up look us up at localharvest.org

    Brien and Debbie Campbell

  • [...] “hoop houses”, “high tunnels” and on up to greenhouses. One Green Generation gives a good overview of these, including construction using scavenged or repurposed materials, along with a reading list [...]

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