Extend You Vegetable Growing Season

Learn how to extend your growing season

From protective row covers to greenhouse and the placement of trees and other plants.

AHZZY Protective Row Cover with Greenhouse Support Hoops, 6Pack Adjustable 4ft Long Garden Grow Tunnel with 0.9oz Non-woven Row Cover for Greenhouse UV Frost Protection

Extending the growing season where I live is something that has to be done without it some crops would never get to harvest.

Some ways to extend your growing season are by using row covers, cold frames and greenhouses are a few ways to go, but your can also use permanent protection like trees.

What type of protection does your garden need?

If your garden is in an open area that is not protected from wind the soil will dry out fast and it has no natural protection from the cold.

A hedge of spruce trees 4’ or so away from the garden can be enough to increase the air temperature by a couple degrees Celsius.

Two rows of snow fencing about 60 feet apart will do the same thing.

Tenax Snow Guard Fence, Orange, 4 by 100-Feet

If you don’t need to worry about a windbreak, but just want to extend your season then try something like plastic mulch, low row covers or agriculture cloth.

Plastic mulch can be laid directly on the ground in between rows or laid down and holes put in when planting your seedlings.  Plastic mulch will warm the soil, help it retain moisture and keep the weeds down.

Clear plastic will warm the soil up better than black plastic, but the black plastic is better for keeping the weeds down.

Row Covers

Low row covers with hoops have wire hoops that go into the ground over your plants; the plastic is placed over the hoops and held down by dirt.  These covers are open on either end to let the air flow thru.

Plastic covers with slits is also available these are better where the temperatures fluctuate because the slits help the air escape when it gets warm.  They are lightweight and the advantage is you can easily remove them and move them around your garden.

Agriculture cloth is another kind of cover, a floating row cover.  These cloths are made of fabric and float over the plants.  They can be staked down with plastic pegs, soil or rocks.  These covers let light, air and water through and also work to protect some plants from pests.

In the past few years I have chosen the agriculture cloth to extend my season.  I cover my young seedling with it to protect them from the climates and help them harden to the outside.  This cloth gives me about two weeks on either side of our growing season, and has saved me more than once from a mid summer frost.
Garden Row Cover Grow Tunnel Garden Blanket – 67 Inches x20 Feet

Greenhouses and Cold frames

Greenhouses and cold frames can also be used to extend your garden season.  With row covers you can take them off and put them back on as needed, with the cold frames and greenhouses you will grow vegetables in them that will stay in them for the entire growing season with the exception of starting seeds.

In a northern climate there are some vegetables that just need to be grown in a greenhouse.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and peppers do much better in a greenhouse than outdoors.

To extend your growing season, row covers, cold frames and greenhouses are a few ways to go, but your can also use permanent protection like trees.

Vegetable gardens in areas that are not protected from the winds can dry the soil out fast leaving them unprotected from the wind and cold so snow fencing or a hedge can be ideal in helping with that problem.

Plastic mulch is an excellent way to warm up the soil as well as helping the soil to retain moisture and keeping the weeds down.  Clear plastic will warm the soil up better than black plastic, but the black plastic will shade the weeds out.

These plastic mulches are available in biodegradable plastic.

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14 thoughts on “Extend You Vegetable Growing Season”

  1. Hiya, you know I love gardening however I am not very good at it because my veggies always seem to die before they even get started but I’m thinking it’s because the weather where I live is always so unpredictable. I don’t have space for a greenhouse, although, I’ve not looked into them properly, but these covers are a great idea which I never thought of being a novice to trying to grow veggies from home. Which one would you recommend for a novice gardener who has a small space to grow vegetables?

    • Hi, the cloth cover is great because you can cut it to fit any area, or the hoops which are nice because they sit above the plants.  They come in 4′ lengths so depending on your space I would chose either of those.  Happy Gardening!

  2. Hi Jill,
    Looks like you have a pretty simple and inexpensive solution for extending a growing season.
    Reading through this article got me thinking. Where we live, we don’t have to worry about the cold because it rarely goes below 18degC.
    But, we live in a climate where it rains for about six months of the year. During the other six months, hardly a drop.
    From your experience, would these protective row covers work to help maintain humidity during an extended dry spell (where watering on a regular basis is hard to do)?

  3. Great post dear. I am bad at gardening but with your post i ask myself why can’t i give it a try? Anyway green house here is very expensive i could not afford the price. But why not trying with that woven cloth ( agriculture cloth) and make my vegetable garden at my home? How is the price for a small woven cloth which can cover a meter square?

    Thank you for the idea, i feel concerned with making vegetable garden even in dry season can be fruitful.

    • You may be able to buy a square meter of cloth at your local hardware store, but I’m not sure.  The smallest amount I have bought would be about 6′ by 10.  Here is a link to one I found on Amazon.  Small row cover

      Enjoy your garden and be sure to stop back and let us know how it went.

  4. You have given us very helpful tips about gardening. I have a garden in the open place and I must say that it is not easy at all because of such unstable climate. When winter is ahead I put floating row covers but my plants still freeze. I don’t know is there some row covers that will prevent freezing?

    • The row covers help me to extend my season about 2 weeks on either side, but if they are not working for you; you might want to try the cloches – they are placed over the plants and made plastic although you can get glass ones as well. here is a link to  Haxnicks King Size Victorian Bell Cloche It may be a better option for you.

  5. These row covers are a must if you are going to garden off grid.  As you note they can extend the growing season both in the spring and fall.  I also see them, in my usage, to be helpful in limiting pests.  Especially moths that lay eggs and they help keep off aphids.  Truly amazing.  I also use covers in summer to protect lettuce from direct sunlight to avoid them bolting and helping them retain moisture.  Great tip on extending the growing period.

    • Thanks Tim for adding your experience with row covers as well.  I totally forgot about the pests, it’s saved me with cabbage moths before, also kept the rabbits from munching down on things.  I haven’t used them for my lettuce, but that’s an excellent idea as it really doesn’t like a lot of sun.  Thanks for your comments. 

  6. Hi Jill, 

    This is very useful information, I’ve actually started growing my own produce in an effort to increase my organic food intake. 

    I’m also trying to reduce my use of plastics so I’d look at the agriculture cloth personally, I’m in the UK and this is my first winter so think it will be a necessity, what sort of price point does the cloth start at?

    • Hi Nate, these cloths do really help and here in North America the prices vary from about $12 up depending on the size.  All the best with your gardening venture.

  7. Hey thanks for some great information about extending the growing season. The wife and I have been talking about making a vegetable garden in the back yard. I never knew there were so many types of covers available for the garden. I will definitely book mark this site as I know I will need some info.

    • Hi Donnie, thanks for the book mark.  Let us know how your vegetable garden growing goes.  It’s always great to hear from fellow gardeners.  Best of luck to you


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