Fall Protection

The trees are starting to turn colors, and there is a very slight nip in the air. Here soon we will see the first fall frost, typically the end of October, but many of our plants will be damaged by temperatures below about 38°. It’s time to start thinking about fall protection.

There are a couple of different options to help extend your growing season. There are fabric covers, greenhouses, cloches, and cold frames. You can find fabric covers at most local garden shops and online. They range in size from 6′ wide to some over 25′ wide. Many fabric covers are designed to be placed directly on top of the plants.

A greenhouse is an additional option – though out of the price range that I am in. I don’t really have the funds to heat a greenhouse in the winter when it would be needed most. So a greenhouse is out of the question for me.

There is also the option of a cloche. A cloche refers to two different types of protective cover. The first refers to a glass bell jar. These bell jars also come in plastic, and only cover an individual plant. They require a bit of attention as the interior heat can build up quickly to scorch the plants. The second is a low tunnel that allows the plants headroom and is typically covered by either a fabric or plastic sheet, which allows light transmission.

And the final option is a cold frame. A cold frame is typically a built up frame of wood or plastic that has a lid with a transparent panel. This panel can be made of glass or rigid plastic. I am thinking of making a cold frame of the same material as I made my raised beds, cedar decking, and making the panels of an old window, though I think that the better option may be to make the panels out of a rigid insulated plastic.

For my beds I use a fabric that is 12′ wide and 25′ long. This allows me to drape the fabric over the EMT the entire length of two beds and have room to tie them off. This year I have also invested in plastic clips to keep the fabric in place over my 3/4″ EMT structure. So after thinking about it, my current set-up is a hybrid between a cloche and a fabric cover.

Also you can sign up for our alerts and get notified of severe weather events in the Seattle area. See our Alerts page!

Does this make you think about protecting your garden a little while longer? What is your setup?

3 responses to “Fall Protection

  1. We’ve just planted our cold greenhouse for winter, hoping to enjoy some slow-growing winter crops (asian greens, lettuces, some root veg). It’s our first year, so it’ll be very much wait and see. We’re on the same latitude as Eliot Coleman, who promotes this method, so we’re crossing our fingers!

    • We are lucky to be in a moderate winter climate. With the ocean flows we have a very mild winter that allows us to grow many things outdoors with minimal protection. The one thing I did read in Eliot Coleman’s book was a cold frame in a cold greenhouse gives you additional protection compared to just a cold frame or just a cold greenhouse. Something to keep in mind if the weatherman calls for very low temps in your area!

      • Yes, we’ve got our extra row cover all lined up ready to go on those beds in our cold house, as we definitely get the cold temperatures that Coleman does!

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