Americans refer to it as the backyard. But “garden” is the term used by Brits for any expanse of yard outside their back door. When a backyard contains a REAL garden, however, it’s a whole different ball game. Gardens are where growing and harvesting living things happen.
The season to harvest is well upon us and logic says now’s the time to collect the bounty, then get your green babies bundled up for the cold weather ahead. Yet Realtor’s Larissa Runkle has a few more ideas to keep the garden fest going. “According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the first fall frost occurs on the East Coast around Nov. 12. When your perennial plants feel that chilly air, the foliage starts to die back. This is your cue to cut back plants whose growing season you don’t wish to extend,” says Runkle. “For the plants you want to push further, remember they depend on sunlight and warmth to grow. So your greatest garden challenge is to protect them from the coming freezing temperatures.”
Have a nice, neat row of fall veggies— like kale, radishes, and beets — that you’d like to harvest for a few more weeks? Consider installing a high tunnel, aka a hoop house. Runkle cites farmer Garth Brown: “A hoop house is a gold standard for extending the season. It makes the soil stay warmer longer into the fall. And it provides good protection against light and moderate frosts if it’s completely closed off.” The downside to these structures is that they stay in place year-round, so you’ll need a large growing space to accommodate them and not have them as a full-time few from your living room. Hoop houses are rows of tunnels. Made of a plastic hoop covered with a row cover and capable of raising the temps inside them as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, they are one of the best strategies to extend the summer growing season into the fall and early winter, protecting plants from wind and rain.
Cold frames are pretty boxes that offer a low footprint and extend your outdoor garden’s glory days. They are bottomless boxes that allow the edges of the frame to sink in the ground, making it airtight to keep your plants warm.
If you’re looking to grow a cornucopia of vegetables year-round, then a polytunnel is the ticket. “These structures are a version of row hoop tunnels but sized more like a traditional greenhouse,” says gardener Mary Jane Duford. Polytunnels are affordable as well as typically easier to set up — a great cost-effective option for serious gardeners looking to grow thriving crops year-round.