Make it warmer earlier and keep it warmer later. These are two very important things in our Pacific Northwest climate. The ability to get the ground and surrounding air warmer earlier and keep it warmer later will enhance your ability to get production sooner and longer than those without. We all want a greenhouse, but… with the lack of sun in the wintertime, artificial heat and light is needed for proper use of the building.
You could make a cold frame of an old window and some lumber. I recently called my local window company and they said that they have new (old) windows almost everyday. Give your local window shop a call and let them know you might want some! They throw them away, so, get some for your garden.
You could also use a floating row cover. I have a lightweight cover for my garden that helps to get things going earlier and keep it going later. I need to contact my local supply store to get two more for each of the new beds I have installed this summer. You can create a heat sink in the cold frame with used milk bottles painted black and filled with water. The heat will be absorbed and reflected outward when needed.
There are also cloches, which in the old days, were made of glass and they would be to shield individual seedlings. The glass ones are much too expensive, in my opinion, to use in the garden. But they are pretty to use inside for tender houseplants! There are plastic varieties that have vents that would be helpful. Although being you need another one for each plant, they can add up quickly in cost.
Another option to get things going earlier is a Wall O’Water type item. There are many, and I do not know the original, but the concept is that you fill the Wall O Water with water around the edges and it creates a heat sink. This idea is nice, but, we just don’t have enough sun to make it useful.
Another way to get going earlier is to get your seeds started earlier and properly harden them off. This will have them growing leaps and bounds before those directly seeded.
I hope this article is helping everyone think of a way to get it all going before the rains of today flood us out! Enjoy the fall harvest and think about ways to get the fall planting going and continue to go throughout the winter!