Art Knapp Articles
Techniques to Extend the Vegetable Gardener’s Growing Seasonin Informational
For avid gardeners on the Lower Mainland, of which there are many, there is often a temptation to find ways to extend the growing season. There are three main ways to do this: by extending the spring, by extending the summer, and by choosing plants that will continue to grow well as the weather cools off. None of these techniques are mutually exclusive. You can choose one, two, or all three. In today’s blog we will talk briefly about all three.
Early Spring and Late Summer
Some of the techniques used to make your spring come earlier, or raise the temperature of the outside beds to a few degrees higher than they would be if left to the elements, are the same ones that can be used at the end of the season to extend the warm growing weather: using cold frames and row covers.
Starting Seeds Indoors
The most obvious way to start your spring early is by starting seeds inside where it is warm or inside a greenhouse. Indoors you will need a sunny location or some additional artificial light.
Cold frames are really like tiny greenhouses. They are just small box-like structures that are open on the bottom and closed on the other five sides. Think of them as like shoeboxes that are used with the open side down. The sides need to be something clear or translucent to allow sunshine in, so these surfaces need to be some kind of clear plastic or glass.
You can make your simple DIY cold frames with wood strips, plastic, and a stapler, but there are also sophisticated ones that you can buy. Don’t forget that you need a way to vent them so you don’t cook your plants. If it’s warm and sunny during the afternoon, then make sure you have a way to let in some fresh air into or under the cold frame.
Row covers are a similar concept, except they are usually either just plastic or a translucent fabric. They are a little more flexible in application because you can adjust their sizes and shapes more easily that you can a fixed frame.
Both row covers and cold frames can not only increase the internal temperature by a few degrees (for example, keeping the plants and ground surface above freezing) but they can also offer protection against certain types of pests.
Another way to extend the growing season on both ends is to choose cold-loving plants that will thrive even though the temperature is cooler than what is needed, for example, to grow tomatoes or peppers. Carrots are a good example. Carrot seeds can be sown all the way until the end of September, and you can pick carrots throughout the winter and into the spring, provided the ground is not frozen solid. The trick here is to concentrate on planting specific hardy vegetables that don’t mind some chilly weather, like peas, carrots, beets, lettuce, collards, and kale.
Stop by our store in Surrey, and we will be happy to help you extend your growing season.
Art Knapp has 15 locations across British Columbia and is well known as the go-to garden centre for everything garden-related. Art Knapp, himself, began the business in the 1940's, and now, 80 years later, you can find more than he ever dreamed of in our stores. Come and see us on King George Boulevard in Surrey.
If you have any questions about this article or want to talk to us about gardening, just give us a call at (604) 596-9201.