I am a vegetable-growing novice but there is one thing that I do know – August still provides plenty of time to plant a plentiful harvest, especially if you get down with your handy self and take a little time to construct a cold frame. Simply put, a cold frame is a structure that traps heat from the sun and allows you to grow warm weather crops even as autumn approaches and the temperature begins to dip. Cold frames extend your growing period by two to three weeks at each end of the season. You can use a cold frame in August and continue your garden into the fall, or you can also use it in early spring when the ground is thawed but you still have a chill lingering in the air.
Constructing a cold frame is fairly simple— you can use old storm windows, spare panes of glass or other recycled materials found around your home. This project and many more can be done in a weekend afternoon and if you follow the easy instructions in Garden Projects: 25 Easy-To-Build Wood Structures and Ornaments by Roger Marshall (The Countryman Press, 2015).
This handy guide includes beginner projects like putting together a compost bin or constructing planter boxes and birdhouses. There are also unique projects you can tackle such as building an ornamental wheelbarrow or putting together Adirondack chairs for summer or tombstone décor for Halloween. You’ll also find the estimated amount of time that each project takes, so you know what you are getting yourself into before you start.
Feeling a bit intimidated? Here’s a really ingenious way to build cold frames from an old dresser—in only 90 minutes. No construction experience necessary.
If you’re an urban gardener or even just a studio apartment dweller, another gardening book of note is Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet (DK Publishing, 2015). This inventive guide to maximizing your harvest in a small space will leave you amazed at all the crazy places that you can actually grow things. Test your small space green thumb by growing strawberries in a retro colander turned hanging basket or create a saddlebag for other hanging plants. Need space to grow “up” with crops like cucumbers? Use bicycle wheels for a trellis. If you’re like me and you have tons of plastic shopping bags stuffed into a drawer, you can actually grow zucchini in a bag with just a bit of multipurpose soil mix, liquid tomato fertilizer and some water. You never need to feel constricted when you are growing plants in tight spaces — you can repurpose and reuse many materials and be as creative as you please.
What are your gardening plans as fall approaches? Share in the comments below.