Written on September 17, 2013 at 6:10 am , by Shawna Coronado
Fall is almost upon us, so it is time to start planning for how you are going to extend those garden crops for as long as possible through the frost season (see the before picture on the right). Helping your vegetables survive through fall means a longer growing season and money saved in the bank. There are two types of frosts to be aware of. Advective Frosts are plant killers; very cold temperatures that drop below plant hardiness levels. Radiation Frosts are survivable for your plants if they are covered and generally represent the frosts most likely to occur in early fall.
Below are three super-easy ways to help save your crops from a radiation type of frost. Advective frosts are tough to fight and you might need more powerful protection tools. All the below concepts involve covering the crop and trapping the heat of the soil beneath the covering. These coverings work as long as they do not get wet. A wet cover makes the temperatures surrounding the plant cooler.
1. Blanket and Sheet Covers
These are the simplest to use. Simply toss a lightweight blanket or sheet over the area of garden you are trying to protect. I have been known to use all the blankets in my house and ask my neighbors for theirs, but have had regular success in saving the garden for many weeks if there is only a one or two night frost situation; the covers help the plants survive those two nights in order to enjoy the Indian Summer later in the fall. Be sure to remove the blanket in the morning so the plants receive sunlight and warmth during the day.
2. Floating Row Crop Covers
Floating covers keep frost and insects off the plants, but allow daylight to provide enough light for growth. Depending on the plant, you can leave the row cover up all day without a problem. Do not forget to water the plants that are beneath the floating row covers.
3. Plastic and Garden Covers
Plastic covers work, particularly if you have a supportive frame to cover the planting bed. If you like, you can add lights at night to increase warmth within the protective frame. In the top photo you see the miniature greenhouse garden cover I have placed over my raised beds from Greenland Gardener. The garden cover is easy to assemble – it took me less than 15 minutes to put this together and place it properly. Unfold, assemble support pole, place in position, tighten Velcro (see photo below), tie the poles together at the top, place over beds, and DONE!
According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them. They worked well and I am happy about that.
Categories: Better Gardener, Gardening, Products | Tags: advective, blankets, crop cover, floating row, floating row crop cover, frost, frosts, garden, Gardening, greenhouse, ground cover, killing frost, plastic, radiation, Shawna Coronado, Soil
Written on September 12, 2013 at 5:30 am , by Whitney Curtis
Sometimes a garden just hits you. Sometimes you walk into a garden so fabulous, your jaw hangs open for a period of minutes while you take in its glory. This feeling first happened to me at Ryan Gainey’s Atlanta home walking around his cottage garden and it happened to me again over the weekend at the greenhouse on the Anne Springs Close Greenway property just outside of Charlotte, NC.
Every corner of the greenhouse was as full as it could be with greenery, pots and plants. A lime tree, variegated bougainvillea, orchids, hibiscus, the list goes on. And the size of the fiddle leaf fig tree just blows your mind, doesn’t it?
The greenhouse of my dreams has shelves just like this – the perfect size for terra cotta pots en masse. I couldn’t get enough.
I spotted this Starfish Flower Cactus (Stapelia grandiflora ) from all the way across the room. I have never seen anything like the star-shaped flower that blooms at the tips of these branches. It’s quite a sight, especially with at least a half a dozen blooms right behind the first large flower.
Orchids galore… Here are a few tips on growing your own.
And a little treat tucked far in the back near the wall, a baby pineapple sprouting up!
All photos by Whitney of The Curtis Casa
Written on February 19, 2010 at 10:05 am , by Denny Schrock
While our friends on the West Coast may be enjoying an early spring, here in Iowa we’re still in the deep freeze with record snow cover. By mid-February, I’m ready for a break from the snow and cold. Most years I travel to a warm-weather destination for a few days to lift my spirits. That won’t happen this year. Instead, I just walk out the door of my basement and into the attached greenhouse. I took this shot of Vista Bubblegum petunias this morning when the temperature outdoors was in the teens.
Seeing the bright flowers in bloom is a great way to adjust my attitude. Gardeners are naturally optimistic–how else can you explain the leap of faith that it takes to plant seeds with the expectation of beautiful flowers or bountiful harvests of produce?
On sunny days the greenhouse truly is tropical. It often reaches 80 degrees even when temperatures outdoors remain below freezing. I love to open the basement door and allow the scents of springtime to fill the entire house. But overnight and on cloudy days, temperatures frequently dip into the 40s in the greenhouse, even with the triple wall acrylic covering and insulating bubble wrap.
In order to start seeds in the greenhouse, I have a germination chamber that keeps the seedlings warmer. This germination box is large enough to hold five standard nursery flats (plus a few extra plants). A heating mat supplies bottom heat, and maintains a constant 70 degrees F. The 8-inch deep box fell short for growing stem cuttings, so I added a 1-foot tall extension made of treated deck rails. Usually it’s draped with clear plastic, to hold in the heat. But the plastic rolls back to make it easier to water and work with the seedlings. This photo shows that the grassy onion seedlings are growing nicely, as are half a dozen types of perennial flower seedlings. I’ll soon start more annual flowers and veggies. By then the perennials will be able to move to the cooler greenhouse benches. And with improving weather conditions (I remain optimistic!) they’ll be ready to transplant to the garden when the snow finally melts.