Episode 025: 2 Easy Season Extension Options For Your Garden: Low Tunnels And Row Covers

Are you tired of saying goodbye to your garden as the winter season approaches? Do you wish you could enjoy fresh produce from your backyard year-round? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then this episode post is for you!

Season Extension: Demystifying the Concept

Season extension is a simple concept that every gardener can employ, regardless of their experience level. It involves creating microclimates in your garden that can retain heat, thereby granting your plants a few extra weeks of growth even when the temperature drops.

The two easiest ways to get starting with this are row covers and low tunnels, and don't worry, they are not as intimidating as they sound.

Row covers are made from spun-bonded plastic, which creates a warm microclimate beneath them. Low tunnels, on the other hand, are built using PVC pipes that are covered with plastic. Both will create a warm environment for your plants to thrive in even as the temperatures drop outside.

Both these methods are simple to set up and budget-friendly, making them perfect for every gardener out there.

Constructing Seasonal Garden Coverings

Constructing row covers and low tunnels for season extension requires basic materials such as PVC pipes, plastic coverings, sandbags, and clips. To set up the PVC pipes, you can either push them directly into the ground on both sides of your bed or use rebar to create a more sturdy structure.

Once the framework is in place, simply drape your material over it and secure the ends using sandbags or clips.

One of the critical aspects of maintaining these microclimates is ensuring proper humidity control. Since these coverings increase humidity, you need to keep an eye out for potential pest activity and fungal growth. A simple trick I've found effective is creating a homemade trap with oil, tuna juice, and soy sauce to deal with pests like earwigs and slugs.

Keep in mind that the temperature within these covered areas can rise quickly on warm days, so open them periodically to prevent your plants from overheating. For this, just roll up the sides or open both ends so air can flow through on the cross breeze. 

Mastering the art of season extension might seem daunting at first, but the benefits it offers are well worth the effort. Remember, it's all about trial and error. Don't be disheartened if things don't go as planned the first time around. Keep experimenting, learning, and most importantly, keep growing!

Here's the recipe and instructions for the bait trap I mentioned. Be ready to catch a ton of bugs! Slug and earwig bait traps

Here's a great article discussing row covers from the University of Maryland's extension office:
https://extension.umd.edu/resource/row-covers

📩 Questions? Email me at jessica@homegrownfoodandflowers.com

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