Here is an easy and quick tip for starting your garden earlier in the spring and garden later in the fall. All you do is cover it up with a cloth, that will let light and rain through, or if you need more protection you can use a plastice cover.
You can put up a low tunnel of plastic, which works great, but you need to be able to manage for heat build up through the day and the cool down at night in early spring. If you are at home, and can remind yourself to check on the tunnel, you can get a real head start.
The problem is the heat will build up quickly and cook your plants when the sun pops out. I know, I have had plants that were really healthy and growing great in the morning and at night they would be wilted flat on the ground in my cold frame.
To put up a low tunnel is a simple process. Cut enough pieces of number 9 wire or ½ inch plastic tubing to set about 6 feet apart (the tubing can be spaced farther apart than the wire) for the length of row you want to plant. Push each end of the hoop into the ground on each side of the row.
Cover the wire or plastic hoop with a sheet of plastic wide enough to lay over the hoop and have some excess on both sides. Hold down the edges of the plastic with heavy objects, boards, rocks, etc. or I simply make ground pins out of number 11 or 12 wire by forming them in a u shape about 4 to 6 inches long, meaning the wire before forming is about 8 to 12 inches long. I use the pins to push through the material and hold it to the ground so the wind does not blow it away.
If you are just getting started you can use cheap plastic, but I recommend you go ahead and spend the money on a greenhouse grade plastic. The sun will not deteriorate the plastic if it is treated and will last for several years. You can buy greenhouse plastic in any length you want from http://www.farmtek.com .
You just raise the plastic from one side when you want to plant or weed. When the danger of frost is passed just remove the plastic and start harvesting the crop.
If you are not home through the day there is another plan for you. Get a fabric row cover to do much the same thing as the plastic. The floating row cover, as it is called, lets light and rain through to the plants, and lets heat out when the sun gets hot. It will not protect your plants from as much cold as the plastic, but it will let you get an earlier start than without the row cover. Row cover can be found at the same place as the greenhouse plastic.
You put up the row cover much the same as the plastic tunnel. It is designed to float over the plants, but I like to put hoops in to keep it off the plants. The wind will whip it against the plants, at times, and if you get a frost the leaves that touch the fabric will get burned. So, it is best to just go ahead and put in the hoops.
There you have a simple quick way to increase your production and get started earlier and garden later this season.
Hope these garden tips help. For even more great tips check in on the blog, and please leave a comment.
Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. He started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family, too.