Beat the frost with vertical gardening – Mother Earth News

Beat the frost with vertical gardening – Mother Earth News

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Make the most of your garden space by thinking vertically. Beat the frost in the fall with these tips for extra weeks of harvest.

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Photo of Alicja on Pixabay

Frost in the garden.

Make the most of your garden space by thinking vertically. Beat the frost in the fall for extra weeks of harvest. Make the most of your garden shots. Cold air sinks, so the frost first settles in the lowest areas of your garden. Ground frost does not translate to frost, even a foot or two higher in the garden.

Use your fences

Grow vining Italian summer squash such as Climbing the Zuccino on your garden fences and harvest the hanging fruits into the late fall. I came with my last zucchini this year on November 8th, even though we had a heavy frost every night the week before.

Plant autumn peas on another fence for a spring-like harvest after the weather has become quite cold. Cover the roots of all vegetables grown this way with some loose straw to keep them warm.

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Picture by Sheryl Campbell

Use old plants to support new vines.

Use old plants

Snap peas grow tall on old corn plants that you have left in the garden after the summer harvest. Insert the seeds around the roots of the old corn stalks and let the peas wind up towards the sun and away from the frost.

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Picture by Sheryl Campbell

Snap peas on the fence to beat the frost.

Use your topography

My garden is not smooth, and I bet yours is not either. Several of my raised beds are a few feet taller than the rest. Dig frost channels into your higher beds to let cold air run off the beds in the fall. Winter radishes, turnips and beets will thrive in frosty weather without their tops suffering by planting them in these frost-resistant beds.

Use the Sun.

Find out which parts of your garden get the longest afternoon sun in the fall. The soil in these areas will absorb the heat and release it during the night, delaying the frost. Plant cabbage there so that they are not so easily damaged by frost.

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Picture by Sheryl Campbell

Cabbage in raised bed.

Use your garden waste

Hopefully you have used your old garden plants to make a straw bale compost bin in your garden. This container will now expose the heat from all the composting that takes place. And it is several meters higher than the rest of your garden. Royalty Purple Bush Beans (already more cold tolerant than other beans) can provide a good harvest into November, and take advantage of the warmth created at their feet.

Sweet and hot peppers planted directly in the compost bin will also provide an autumn harvest as the heat from the pile flows up into the plant and keeps the fruit at a higher temperature than the bottom garden.

Winter-hardy lettuce planted in the compost pile should continue to produce until temperatures drop below 20 degrees. Chard planted in the pile can still grow new leaves when the temperature drops to the low teens.

Winter is time for planning

Although the planting is over for this year, it is the perfect time to look out into your garden every morning to see where the frost is laying first. Map your garden for frost pockets, dig frost channels, and plan where to plant your late fall crop next year. Decide where you want to build a straw bale compost bin, and install fences in small sections between posts throughout the garden, not just around it.

Sheryl Campbell is a hereditary gardener, shepherd and teacher of edible flowers who owns the Bouquet Banquet in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Read Sheryl’s previous blogging with Mother Earth Gardener and Grit and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our blogging guidelines and are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Published January 4, 2022


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