Season extension enables a plant or crop to be grown and cultivated beyond the normal outdoor growing season and can take a variety of forms:
Raised beds are constructed to hold soil and plants above the ground. The loosened soil, which can be piled a few inches to more than one foot above the surrounding ground, heats up more quickly in spring, enabling earlier planting of crops. Learn more.
Mulches refer to material placed on top of the soil surrounding plants to help them retain heat. Mulches can include straw, compost and synthetic materials such as plastic sheeting with slits cut to allow for plants to grow through. Learn how to use mulches in your garden. Learn more.
Row Covers and Low Tunnels
Row covers refer to light fabric or cover, such as newspaper cones or plastic, placed over plants for frost protection and heat retention. Low tunnels are floating row covers constructed like high-tunnels, but are much smaller in size. Low tunnels cover plants to provide wind and frost protection and they are removed once outdoor temperatures reach the necessary levels for growing. Learn how to use floating row covers. Learn more.
Cold frames and hot beds are enclosures built low to the ground with transparent roofs. They are used by gardeners to protect plants from cold weather. Typically hot beds, which have a heat source, are used for starting plants and cold frames, which do not have a heat source, are used to harden plants to outdoor conditions before transplanting. The same frame can often serve both purposes. Learn how to construct and use cold frames and hot beds. Learn more.
High Tunnels or Hoophouses
High tunnels or hoophouses are unheated greenhouses, typically made by constructing an arc-shaped frame and covering it with plastic sheeting. They sometimes include added features such as irrigation or rainwater harvesting systems. Learn how to construct a high tunnel. Learn more.