If you happen to live in a climate that has less-than-ideal conditions for growing much of the year because of cold or frost weather, there are a lot of things you can do to extend your growing season by weeks, months, or even indefinitely no matter how cold it gets!
1. Pick the right plants
The first thing you’ll need to do is choose plants that will yield produce in the amount of time you have. You can grow most annual vegetables in most places if started early enough, but if you choose a perennial that doesn’t belong in your zone, it may not yield anything even if it does survive the winter months. Make sure you educate yourself about a plant’s need for sun, soil, water, daylight hours, humidity and temperatures, and choose the plants most adapted to your climate (but don’t be afraid to also experiment).
2. Make use of greenhouses
Perhaps the most well-known way to extend the growing season is to use greenhouses. Passive solar greenhouses feature the best designs for energy efficiency and resilience. These greenhouses are sometimes built into south-facing slopes, and typically concentrate most of their windows facing south, sometimes the east and west sides. Meanwhile, the north side is generally heavily insulated or uses thermal mass such as earth or stone.
These are just a few greenhouse designs you can try out:
You can even add a rocket mass heating stove or some other stove to your greenhouse, to ensure a year-round growing season with very little risk of freezing. You man even want to consider attaching the greenhouse to your home so you can exchange heat between the two structures.
3. Utilize cold frame
Cold frames are is considered the little sister of greenhouses. They can be an invaluable way to expand your season by using salvaged materials such as scrap wood and old patio doors. Just as the case with greenhouses, you can build them into berms or slopes. But it can also be as simple as throwing a frame on a window and placing over a bed at a height that best accommodates your plants.
4. Use microclimates
Microclimates are areas within your garden with different humidity and temperature qualities than other parts of your garden. South-facing walls are one example, as are large rocks, southern hills, lake edges or ponds, or other well-sheltered areas such as buildings, trees, or hedges.
These areas can make conditions more favorable for growing less hardy plants. However, you also need to avoid frost pockets caused by obstacles or landforms such as low-lying areas that can cause frost to collect.
5. Stagger plantings
Continue planting the right crops throughout the entire season, including right into the fall when you are able to plant cold season crops such as chard, kale, spinach, or beets. Once you harvest a crop, plant another crop quickly, considering how much time you have before the first frost. Of course, you can also plan for putting a cold frame over a crop or use other techniques if you feel it won’t be ready in time.
Those were just a few techniques you can use to keep your garden going year-round. You can find more techniques by visiting this article.