Covering Plants for an Extended Harvest

November 7, 2013

Credit: Celeste Longacre
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It’s starting to get pretty cold where I live. Yet, there are some plants that are quite hardy and don’t mind a bit of frost.

I generally cover my lettuce, spinach and kale and continue to harvest them—sometimes as late as Christmas. If you live further south, you might be able to keep these plants going all winter long with proper protection.

You want the plastic to be away from the plants so this requires some kind of support. I have hoops for the spinach and lettuce, but the kale was much too high for them. Luckily, it was up against a fence so I decided to be creative in building their support. I took some bamboo poles and inserted them in the ground in front of the kale. Then I placed another bamboo across the middle of the front to keep the plants away from the front of the plastic.

Then I took some small hoops and tied them to the top of the bamboo poles.

The other side of the hoop was clipped to the fence using clothespins and I tied them to the fence (snow can be quite heavy).

The whole lot was covered with plastic, pinned in places and grounded with rocks.

I picked all of the leaves out of the lettuce and covered it.

I did the same with the spinach.

 

You need to use some heavy rocks or the wind will just blow the cover off. I’m planning on having a nice, big salad for my dinner party on Saturday. The lettuce does need to be thinned and I’ll toss it with a bit of kale and spinach. Yum!

              

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Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.

Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer! A personally autographed copy of her book, Love Signs, is available in the Almanac.com General Store. You can also find an ebook version on Amazon.com for $2.99.

Celeste is currently writing a new book on how to live lightly on the Earth. It is due out sometime this spring.

 

Comments

Hi Celeste Longacre, From

By Alice White

Hi Celeste Longacre,

From this valuable description I am getting huge interest on gardening. Pictures are so much helpful to know the actual use of tomato cages and their advantages. Every beginners should read this details. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

Mistakes are instructive.

By JBL55

Mistakes are instructive. One lesson I've learned about extending the growing season is to plant seeds that are not dependent on pollinators, and another is to not use tomato cages as props for plastic sheets unless one is prepared to go out after each rainfall and empty the pools of water that form in the top of each cage.

Next year we plan to run a line between opposite fence poles and drape the plastic over that so it hangs like a tent.

Not only will it not collect rain, if we do it correctly I will be able to lift the flap and walk right in.

Thanks, Alice, for your kind

By Celeste Longacre

Thanks, Alice, for your kind comments! Good luck with your gardening. It does take some effort, but it is well worth it.

Sorry my post appears as its

By JBL55

Sorry my post appears as its own comment and not a reply to yours, Celeste.

I came to this comment via an e-mailed link, clicked "reply," composed a response in the box provided under my user name, and clcked "send." Even though the web site recognized me, I had to log on again before it would acept my reply, and then it seemed to think I was replying to your blog entry.

I'm not sure why this keeps happenng -- the same thing happened when I posted my original comment. Kind of annoying!

If you continue to have

By Amy Bidder

If you continue to have problem with posting replies to comments please contact technicalsupport@yankeepub.com.  Thank you.

No tomatoes, just the cages.

By JBL55

No tomatoes, just the cages. :-)

I soaked the spinach seeds for 24 hours before planting them, and I turned on the soaker hose for that row every morning for a week. :-( Perhaps they weren't as fresh as I thought. Next year I'll get them from Johnny's.

Yes, I finally figured out that my sugar snap peas might be blooming but without pollinators they won't do much else. Guess I should brush a feather back & forth across them, eh?

We're experimenting this year

By JBL55

We're experimenting this year using plastic over tomato cages placed at regular intervals down one row. We used the cages as we've never done this sort of thing before and didn't want to spend money on hoops we might never use again.

Unfortunately none of the spinach I planted in August germinated -- zero, zip, nada -- and I was too annoyed and time-challenged to try again in September, so all that's covered is a half row of sugar snap peas and a few bush beans.

The only trick so far is keeping the plastic from sagging into the top of the tomato cages when it rains. We are't harvesting much -- perhaps we shouldn't have tried peas and beans!

Hi JBL55, Sorry to hear

By Celeste Longacre

Hi JBL55,

Sorry to hear about your spinach. August can be terribly hot and dry. Did you keep the top 1/2 inch of soil moist? It can be quite a challenge to do so. Your tomatoes should be okay for a while. Also, peas and beans, once they flower, they need the bees to come and pollinate them. If you have small beans and pea pods, they should grow. Good luck!

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