Gardening Tips and Highlights

Extending the Growing Season

In Wisconsin, our growing season is very short. It is measured by the length of time between freezes. The last frost in the spring is around May 20 and the first frost in fall is Sept. 24, on average. That gives us four months to plant, grow, and harvest all of the fresh fruit and vegetables we like for the year.

Some crops are much more tolerant of cold temperatures and can be extended beyond these time constraints. Any of the Cole crops like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, along with spinach, onions, lettuce, radishes, carrots, and peas are a few examples.

Cold frames, hot beds, hoop houses, cloches, and floating row covers are relatively simple and can provide months of extra growing time. Cold frames are by far the most useful and versatile structure, and can be used year-round to provide warmth from the sun and protection from drying winds. They can also be used for not only growing crops, but to harden off seedlings, forcing bulbs in winter, storing root crops, and propagating cuttings from trees and shrubs.

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