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A NEW crop of cucumbers? Starting the middle of October? When the lows are in the 30s?
These were planted at the beginning of September and we’re just starting to pick.
All thanks to a high tunnel.
In the farming industry, this is called a season extender.
We are always looking for ways to make our customers happy. And one of the best ways is to have a crop early and late.
After all, local cucumbers in August is nice, but it isn’t that exciting.
But in October and November? It’s pretty awesome.
We use this same method to get tomatoes earlier (our first planting is March 1st, long before last frost) and later (we’ll pick into November, sometimes up until Thanksgiving, long after first frost).
Season extension doesn’t have to be as extreme as heating 60,000 cubic feet in fixed structure.
We usually get a frost mid-October and then it warms back up for a few more weeks (weather such as what is coming next week).
If you have some frost-tender plants you’d like to continue harvesting from, something as simple as a bedsheet placed over them for the night will keep them alive and happy.
The sheet works to trap just enough heat that the temperature under the sheet is a few degrees warmer than outside.
If you want to step up your season extension beyond just getting through 1-2 cold nights, you may want to think about using row cover. Row cover is built to let light and water in and trap heat. Plus it’s sized better for garden use than a bedsheet.
(there’s heavyweight row cover which is for late fall through early spring to protect the plants from the cold. Use a lighter-weight row cover if your aim is to keep insects out in warmer weather as the plants can get too hot in winter-weight row cover)
We even use row cover on plants that are in the tunnels for the ones that need even more protection.
Under cover is a bunch of seedlings. The row cover gives them a couple extra degrees of warmth, which means we don’t have to heat the whole house those extra degrees. (picture is from January, 2018; apparently I don’t like taking pictures of row cover because there are very few of them, and fewer still that are good pictures)
We also put the fig trees under row cover in their own little tunnel.
Figs are a tropical plant so every degree of warmth we can give them over the winter matters.
Sadly, they are not one of the crops that you can cover for one cold night and they’ll continue on. So come Monday night, the figs will likely be done.
It’ll be too cold for the figs to ripen and the leaves will start to fall off. We wind up with green figs on bare branches to remind us daily that it is cold out.
So embrace your figs this weekend, because it’ll likely be the last of them until next summer.
Some seasonal inspiration:
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