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Extend your garden enjoyment


Strategies for growing edibles later into the season

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The fabric traps heat around your plants, but allows air, light and water through.Don’t let fall or potentially frosty temperatures stop you from enjoying garden-fresh produce.

Extend your fall and early winter meals with the help of short season crops and season extending strategies. Lettuce, spinach, radishes, turnips and beets are quick to mature from seed to harvest.

Plus, the cooler temperatures enhance their flavor. Simply count the number of frost-free days left in your growing season and compare it with the number of days from planting to harvest listed on the seed packet.

Protect these late plantings and other vegetables from fall temperatures with cloches, coldframes and floating row covers. These devices trap heat around the plants, protecting them from frosty temperatures.

Convert gallon milk jugs into garden cloches for individual plants. Remove the bottom of the jug and slide it over the plant. Use the cap to capture heat or remove to ventilate your homemade cloche on sunny days. Or purchase reusable cloches with built-in ventilation.

You can also make your own coldframes.

Many gardeners convert discarded windows, a bit of lumber and nails into a homemade shelter for their plants. The window size usually determines the size of your coldframe.

For best results your frame should be higher in the back then the front so water and melting snow can drain off.

And if possible, facing south for better warming.You can also use all-purpose garden fabrics. Simply drape these floating row covers over your crops.

Anchor the edges with rocks, boards or wire wickets. The fabric traps heat around your plants, but allows air, light and water through so there is no need to uncover the plants during the day or for watering.

Melinda Myers is a nationally known horticulturist, TV/radio host, author and columnist.