Extend Your Harvest Into the Colder Months

When the days start to get shorter and the weather turns a little chilly, gardeners tend to start thinking ahead to next year’s garden. But wait – this season isn’t finished! Even though the weather is cooler (even with some frost), there is still time to grow vegetables into early winter.

Even though the weather is cooler (even with some frost), there is still time to grow vegetables into early winter. Learn how to extent your harvest.

There are a variety of ways to extend your growing season. First, choose plants that will tolerate the colder, end of season weather. This may mean that you plan a second planting late in the season of lettuce, carrots, cole crops like broccoli or cabbage, or spinach. Almost any variety that will enable you to harvest an early crop in the Spring can be replanted in the late Summer for the next round of cold weather.

Look for micro-climates around your yard

We all have them – little places that seem to thaw first, or those areas that always have shade and the snow never melts. Choose the warmest spots to plant your fall/winter gardens. Those areas will stay warmer long into fall and your veggies will thrive. Avoid the colder shady areas and plant them only in spring/summer.

Use succession planting techniques

Plant crops every couple of weeks so that you will have a longer growing season. Most plants are annuals and have a definite life cycle. Plant the amount you will use in the 2-week time period. Then plant again for another period. Once the original plants are harvested, you can re-plant with another crop of something else. For maximum soil benefits, rotate what you plant (don’t plant the same crop twice in a row). Each crop takes and replenishes different nutrients, and planting the same variety will leave your soil depleted.

Consider protection from the cold

This can be as simple as mulching around the plant base to hold in soil heat to using rigid protection like cold frames. You can also use one of the various garden fabrics to cover your rows and trap heat. If you don’t have acres of garden, an eco-friendly method is to make mini-greenhouses out of gallon milk jugs. Remove the bottoms, keep the caps. Place the jug over the plants and during the day, remove the caps to let excess heat escape. Replace the caps in the evening to keep the cold out.

Cold frames are a great way to extend the season. They can be as simple as plastic sheeting stretched over PVC pipe, or as elaborate as glass windows built onto a raised frame. The one advantage is that they allow plants to have protection from the cold at night and enjoy all the benefits of the sun’s heat during the day. You can keep most vegetables producing for several weeks past their normal end of season by using cold frames or hoop houses. This is also a great way to ripen your late-season tomatoes on the vine.

Keep root crops in the ground, even after the first few light freezes. Cold weather will actually improve the flavor of many root crops like carrots and turnips. Harvest before the ground freezes, though, or your soil may compact.

Move perennial herbs to a shed or enclosed porch. Rosemary, parsley, and many other biennial or perennial herbs will survive over winter on a covered porch. Water lightly, keep in partial sun, and they will be ready to plant back in your yard early spring.

Use artificial lights indoors. Many lettuces and spinach can be grown over the winter indoors. Use specially designed grow lights that mimic sunlight if you don’t have a sunny place to set them. Start seeds a week or two apart, and you can have fresh greens throughout the Winter months.

Protect your plants from the freezing weather, and you will be rewarded with tasty produce. By employing some of these techniques, you can extend your growing season well into the cold, snowy months of the year.

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Planting Your Garden and When to Plant

Even though many areas of the country are still knee-deep in winter weather, thoughts are quickly changing to the warmth and sunshine of spring. Sunny days, no more frosty nights – what’s not to love? Even in the coldest months of the year, though, it’s time to start planning your summer garden. These tips will help you know how and when to plant.

ven in the coldest months of the year, it’s time to start planning your summer garden. These tips will help you know how and when to plant.

Keep a Journal

Planning your garden takes some time, but it really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon. If you haven’t planted a garden before, start a small garden journal. Keep notes of plants and varieties you’d like to incorporate into your space. If you are planning a vegetable garden, order some seed catalogs from online websites. You’ll learn a lot from reading about the different varieties available.

If you had a garden last year, then you probably have notes, or at least thoughts, about what worked well for your space and what you might want to change. Did you find out that 10 zucchini plants were more than your family could deal with?

Did pumpkins take over your yard? Keeping a small notebook with notes is a great way to help plan your garden from year to year. You don’t need to make anything fancy, but have a place to keep all your garden thoughts together. Before planning this year’s garden, read through to see what you might want to change.

Visit the Garden Center

Next, make a visit to your local garden center. This is for several reasons, but the primary one is that they are familiar with your locale and know when the optimum time for planting your garden is, as well as plant varieties that will perform well in your area.

They have a wealth of information and are available to share it with you. They’ll also know if you need to amend your soil or need other kinds of nutrients in your area. They enjoy talking shop.

Focus on the Estimated Last Frost Date

The important date to focus on is the estimated last frost day. Tender young plants will die if exposed to frost. There are some methods to protect them if you get a freak cold day after you’ve planted, though. But there is nothing more infuriating than having to replant your garden because you planted too early!

Start Plants Indoors

To get a jump on the season, you can start some plants indoors before the beginning of the season. Count about eight weeks before that critical last frost date, and start your seeds then. You can plant them in almost anything from newspaper pots to peat pellets to small flower pots. If they have some sunlight, warmth, and water, they will grow.

Starting your own plants from seed will allow you to experiment with types that aren’t readily available, like some of the new developments, or old heirloom varieties. There is a lot of satisfaction in starting your own transplants, and it’s a great way to get the whole family involved in gardening, too. You can order seeds from companies like BurpeeGurney’s, or Baker Creek Heirloom.

Purchase from Your Local Nursery

If this seems like too much work, make a trek back to your local nursery to find out what varieties they have available. Try to find a garden center that raises their own plants instead of buying them from a larger commercial grower. The plants will be adapted to your day length, humidity, and may even already be acclimated to the environment.

Plants that nurseries purchase – like the big box stores – are usually greenhouse grown, under the best growing conditions, and then delivered to your store. They’re usually not the best plants for your region, and are just a generic variety that’s sold everywhere.

Be Ready to Plant

Be ready to plant your garden when all dangers of frost have passed. In temperate climates where frost is not an issue, gardens may be planted any time of the year.

Pay attention to the specific needs of the varieties you’ve picked. Some plants do better in the cooler months with shorter sunlight, and some need the hotter days of summer, along with the longer sunlight to thrive. Remember to jot down a few notes throughout the season so you can fine tune the process next year.

 

 

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DIY My Little Pony Keychain

These adorable My Little Pony keychains take less than 5 minutes to make and are perfect backpack accessories for back to school or inexpensive party favors.

Do your little girls love My Little Pony? Mine sure do! Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash have become household names around here. These adorable My Little Pony keychains are perfect backpack accessories for back to school! They make great inexpensive party favors too!

Each keychain takes less than 5 minutes to put together and your kids will love having their favorite pony on their backpack.

My Little Pony Keychain Supplies

Supplies Needed

Instructions

1. Open your My Little Pony toys and place your drill bit on your drill.
2. Carefully place your My Little Pony toys on your thick wood board (this will prevent the drill bit from going through the table).
3. Use your drill to carefully drill a hole through the tail of each pony.
4. Place your key chain hook through the drilled hole and hook it onto a keychain ring.

These adorable My Little Pony keychains take less than 5 minutes to make and are perfect backpack accessories for back to school or inexpensive party favors.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Edible Marshmallow Paint

This easy edible marshmallow paint is safe for kids and is made from common kitchen ingredients. You can let young kids help to measure and stir, and, of course, choose the colors!

Summer is a great time to enjoy doing crafts with your kids. Most kids love to paint and are proud of their creations, but they’ll be even more proud if they help to actually make the paint. This easy edible marshmallow paint is safe for kids and is made from common kitchen ingredients.

You can let young kids help to measure and stir, and, of course, choose the colors, and they’ll be happy to sample a few marshmallows while you’re at it! Just remember to be careful and help protect your kids from the hot bowl and ingredients.

And to protect kids’ clothes while you do art projects, try our Easy Sew Waterproof Art Smock. If you have older kids who like to use acrylic paint, encourage them to try Painting on Recycled Materials.

Edible-Marshmallow-Paint-ingredients

Supplies Needed

Instructions

1. In a small bowl, combine the marshmallows and corn starch. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds and then mix.

2. Stir in the water and heat for another 30 seconds.

Edible Marshmallow Paint - Step 2

3. Stir in the corn syrup and heat for another 30 seconds.

4. Separate into four small containers. Add 1 small drop of food coloring to each one and mix with your stir sticks or spoons.

Edible Marshmallow Paint - Step 4

5. To use, dab a small amount on the end of a paint brush and paint away!

This easy edible marshmallow paint is safe for kids and is made from common kitchen ingredients. You can let young kids help to measure and stir, and, of course, choose the colors!

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.