It’s cool, crisp and sunny here. I’m incredibly thankful! We’re fortunate as other areas of the country have been slammed with hard rains and frosts. It won’t be too much longer and my northern garden will be facing the same fate. So I wanted to share another keyhole garden update with you before old man winter makes his arrival here….
I just harvested another round of radish. My lettuce is healthy and continues to flourish. It’s doing so well that I’m encouraged to keep growing for a few more weeks. But since we’ve had a few evenings of temps down into the low 30’s it’s time to add another layer of cold-weather protection.
Adding Frost Protective Covers
There are many ways that I could extend my season, but simple frost protection covers will do the job nicely. In order to keep everything neat and tidy, I also added mini hoops into the garden bed. (See the above filmstrip.) I easily created a mini hoop tunnel by purchasing 1/2″ PVC pipe from my local hardware store and cutting the pipe into 10.5′ lengths. This gave me plenty of pipe to push all the way down into the soil and still leave 12″ above the soil to go over my crops. Since my keyhole is in a windy area, I wanted my hoops low. The spacing from crop to top of the cover appears to be just right.
I then used a cover made from all purpose garden fabric to go over the hoops. My sheet is 6′ x 20″ folded in half. I adhered the fabric cover to the hoops with 3/4″ plastic Pex Clamps that I found in the plumbing department of the hardware store. The sides of the cloth are being held down with a few extra bricks that I had left over from the garden path I installed this summer.
My plants are so cozy inside their little garden tent. Of course, the weather in the midwest (and so many other places!) is so unpredictable, that the day after I installed this little set-up the temperatures soared back up into the 70’s. I just shook my head. However….
What I love most about this very simple set-up is the easy access to my plants. When the temps suddenly soared all I needed to do was remove the bricks and let the cooler air in. Harvesting my crops is just as simple. It’s certainly not high-tech, but it is very functional! I love it. It’s a great way to easily extend my growing season. Next year I may create a cold-frame type cover or invest in some other way of extending my season even further. But for the moment I’m very happy getting another four to five weeks of growing time.
If you’re interested in learning more about extending your growing season, I highly recommend The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour. Niki shares a variety of ways to extend your growing season and also offers valuable advice on tending cold-weather crops. I’ve learned an enormous amount from her book. It’s a great resource to have on hand and one that I’ll be referring to as I move into a colder growing season. It also gives great advice on getting your crops going earlier in the spring….you can bet I’ll be honing in on that information as well.
In the meantime, I’m tending the crops I have and enjoying the last of the robins before they migrate.
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