Shorter days and tumbling temperatures needn’t put a halt to your supply of homegrown food. When the growing gets tough courtesy of Jack Frost and company, take action by outfitting your garden with a homemade selection of season-stretching gear. The icing on the cake? Many of the devices you make can also get things growing sooner come spring!
Here, you’ll find our best ideas and plans for DIY cold frames, greenhouses, hoop houses, low tunnels, cloches and other tools that can keep the harvests coming throughout fall and beyond. The dozens of projects range from elaborate and permanent to quick and simple, and many can be made from recycled materials. Have some juice or milk jugs? Turn them into fast cloches. How about some used windows? Fashion an easy cold frame (see photo, right).
No matter the size or style of your plot, you’ll find an effective garden-protection strategy that fits your budget.
General Season-Extension Information
Garden Know-How: Extend Your Growing Season
MOTHER EARTH NEWS Contributing Editor Barbara Pleasant shares how to craft an amazing array of season-stretching devices on a shoestring budget, including cloches, tunnels, a classic cold frame and more.
14 Ways to Extend Your Gardening Season
Savor produce straight-from-the-garden, no matter the season, by using raised beds, trellises, crop rotations and other growing strategies that encourage year-round harvests.
Extending the Season
Undercover Device: The Cloche
How to Make Mini-Greenhouses
Turn familiar “throwaway” items — peanut butter jars, plastic milk containers, 1-gallon glass jugs — into easy cloches to combat the chill of early spring and late fall.
Use Cold Frames to Grow More Food
December 2007/January 2008
Cold Frame Gardening Success
Build a Cold Frame for All Seasons
How to Make an Inexpensive Cold Frame
Build a Ventilated Cold Frame for Winter Vegetables
Exercise your right to homegrown salads year-round! This sturdy, thrifty twist on the homemade cold frame is ideal for growing winter lettuce, carrots, beets, chard and more.
Building a Cold Frame
How to Build a Cold Frame and Hotbed
Build This Easy Hoop House to Grow More Food
Extend your season like never before for less than $1,000.
Low-Cost, Versatile Hoop Houses
Use Low Tunnels to Grow Veggies in Winter: Quick Hoops
DIY, Low-Cost and Multipurpose Greenhouses
This collection of greenhouse ideas will inspire you to design and build your own greenhouse from recycled or inexpensive materials.
Triple the length of your growing season with this simple, energy-efficient design.
Choosing a Greenhouse
MOTHER’s Portable Garden Room
Designing and Building a Recycled Greenhouse
How to Build a Window Greenhouse
You Can Build Your Own Add-On Greenhouse
Cut on a Hot Tin Roof
How to Build a Low-Cost Greenhouse With Pine Poles
Greenhouse Growing: Tips for Basic Greenhouse Cultivation
MOTHER’s Backyard Greenhouse
Build a Solar Window Greenhouse
How to Greenhouse Garden
Build an Ecosystem: The Earth-Sheltered Solar Greenhouse
How to Build a Pit Greenhouse
Readers’ Season Extension Tips
Use Hog Panels for a Greenhouse Frame
Heavy-duty wire fencing — also known as hog panels — can be arched over an existing garden bed to create a simple, cheap greenhouse frame in a jiffy.
Raise Seedlings With a Greenhouse on Wheels
Your vehicle can provide a warm, nourishing environment for seeds.
This raised garden bed mini-greenhouse has railroad ties for its base and some scrap wood and sheet plastic as its cover.
Lightweight Plant Protector
Use a lightweight fleece blanket to protect your plants from early frosts.
A Frost-Free Garden Greenhouse
This simple greenhouse design will let you get a big head start on spring planting.
Simple, Heated Cold Frame
Use a birdbath heater or a crock pot to warm up a small cold frame, extending your growing season even further.
Freezer Cold Frame
Transform and old chest freezer into a cold frame.
Build a Free-Standing Greenhouse
Reader Clara Coleman of Woody Creek, Colo., designed and built this 200-square-foot greenhouse.