Square Foot Gardening Tips: November

It’s November and Mel Bartholomew has the answers to your monthly raised bed gardening questions. The biggest question based on the weather is simply how does one garden when it’s so cold?

Of course, Mel has the answer.

There are some simple ways to protect your plants from the cold. Of course, it always matters where you live and what you have planted, but the elements affect every plant no matter where you live.

Some of the simpler methods for extending your growing season through the winter:

The hoop house approach is always successful. Covering your 4X4 bed with a plastic tarp is easiest. You can use weights to keep the cover stable. By doing this you create a miniature green house effect that always works. Sometimes it works too well and it can get too warm for your plants on cold but sunny days.

Mel suggests that you can lift one side of the tarp to let the cooler air in by using clothes pins which make it easier to do it and undo it easily.  Another method is to make slits in the tarp with a razor blade which also lets air in.

Lastly, when it gets too cold, you can treat your plants like your children and cover them with a warm blanket at night then remove it in the morning.

For ambitious gardeners, here’s a more challenging way:

Dig 12” down into your garden. You can get heat cables that lay down into the ground.  After you get about 12” deep, you lay about 1-2” of sand in the trench.  Then you put in your heating coil. The thermostat can reach between 68 and 72 degrees.  To protect the coil you add another layer of sand and then about 6” of Mel’s mix. Then you can finish it with a weed cloth and for extra insulation make a hoop house with a double layer plastic.

It costs a little more time and money to do it this way, but it’s worth it. Try it. Even the Garden Girl is going to give it a try.

Thanks Mel!