11 Tips for a longer grow season

bok choi growing in a garden bed
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Extend your vegetable growing and harvesting season so you can get the most out of your homegrown veggies all year around

It’s not hard, time consuming or expensive. It can be done with minor alterations and simple, affordable equipment. I can explain how in the next few minutes.

Growing my own food and living off the land is my passion and a lifestyle I chose a few years ago. This can be challenging when living in a colder climate.

Over the years I worked out how to extend my vegetable grow season and it’s a lot easier than I ever thought.

I’m exited to share my 11 tips for a longer grow season and how to get the most out of your vegetable garden

What if we could enjoy our homegrown produce all year around?

You can! and it’s not difficult!

What about if I live in a cold climate and only have a short grow season?

I live in a cold climate. Long, frosty and sometimes snowy winters. I still manage to live very close to entire food self-sufficient even in winter.

Green vegetables growing in a garden bed

I always have some homegrown veggies available to eat.

In the colder month it will be a smaller selection but there are many greens that can be grown even in winter.

Kale, silver beet, Chinese cabbage and spinach are all greens that do really well in colder temperatures.

In this article I will share my top 11 tips for a longer grow season. How to make vegetable plants grow faster and explain how I manage to grow fresh vegetables all year around with only basic equipments, minor alterations and choosing the right plants to grow for each season.

It’s easy, affordable, rewarding and you can do it too

With these easy steps you can enjoy fresh homegrown vegetables for longer

To be self sufficient I need my vegetable garden to produce early in the season. This can be achieved with help of a few simple and affordable planting equipment and choosing the right plants to grow.

Stagger the planting and plant hearty fast growing greens early in the season and cold climate varieties late in the season. Protect the plants and seedlings against frost.

Extend your veggie grow season with my simple tips below:

1. Well drained, raised garden beds

First I need a raised growing area or planter box with drainage. A well drained garden bed or planter box improves the overall health of the plant, extends the growing season and yield of anything you plant. Poor drainage can prevent plants growth and development.

A raised garden bed or planter box can also increase the temperature of the soil which leads to faster growing vegetables

Mine is a raised garden bed home built from wood. The growing area is raised for good drainage. Planter boxes, old tractor tires or containers with drainage at the bottom works fine. If you have a poorly drained garden bed than you can consider raised rows for improved drainage instead.

Two kids are digging in the tractor tyre garden bed
Raised garden row covered in straw

Some excellent raised garden beds here and planter boxes here. Vertical garden ideas here

FRIZIONE 8x4x2FT Galvanized Metal Raised Garden Bed
Agitree Raised Garden Beds ,Detachable Leg, Elevated Wood Planter Box
Victory 8 Big Green Grow Your OWN Machine EZ-GRO Raised Bed Garden AeroFlow Proprietary Fabric No Assembly

2. Good soil

Use good compost!!

Choosing the perfect soil for your raised garden bed or planter box is important to ensure that your garden bed has good drainage.

Select just the right type of free-draining and moisture-retaining soil.

The soil feeds the plants. Mix in plenty of organic matter to help your plants grow. This is very important for the veggies to grow fast and healthy.

I use chicken manure from my hen house as compost. You can buy quality organic compost at your local garden center.

wheel barrow full of chicken manure
Chicken manure from scraping the bottom of the hen house is excellent for the vegetable garden
Hard tooth rake smoothing the garden bed over.

3. Start seeds and seedlings indoors

Start your seeds and seedlings indoors gives you a head start on the growing season. This can lead to an earlier and longer grow period as well as a better and higher yield harvest. Starting seeds and seedlings indoors gives you a few extra weeks of growing time, which can make a big difference, especially if you live in a cold climate with short summers .

Be careful not to plant your seeds too early. The plants can outgrow their seed trays or pots before the weather has warmed up enough to plant them outside. A general rule is to plant your seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date.

Use seed starter trays like the ones below for easy seed planting and transplanting without damaging the seedlings.

Patigrow 3 Packs Seed Starter Tray Flexible Silicone 36 Cells Reusable Seed Starter Kit with Humidity Dome
Hahood 6 Sets Cells Seed Starter Tray Kit with Humidity Dome and Base Seed Starter Peat Pots
Fasezoomit 150 Cells Peat Pots Seed Starter Tray,15 Pack Seed Starter Kit,Premium Biodegradable and Organic Germination

Not all vegetables like being transplanted. Root vegetables for example is better to plant straight in the ground or planter box because they have deep roots and don’t transplant well.


Mulch can prolong your vegetable growing and harvesting season by adding nutrient to your soil, keep moisture in and keep the soil temperature warm and frost free for longer.

I use straw as mulch in my veggie garden but any organic matter, like leaves, grass clippings, bark and pine needles work well too.

A raised garden row with potatoes planted in straw

Using mulch on your vegetable garden bed has many benefits. When the mulch breaks down over time it improves the soil by adding nutrients which will help you grow a bumper crop of veggies. It also helps keep the weeds down to a minimum.

The mulch helps maintaining an even and warm soil temperature, keep moisture in and it protects the plants from cold temperatures. This extends the growth period of your plants.

Add mulch to your garden bed in autumn before the ground freezes.  Hearty crops such as carrots, parsnips, spinach, beetroot, silver beets, and kale do really well under a thick layer of mulch and can often last into winter with the extra layer of insulation to stop the soil from freezing.

early stage of garlic bed
potato plants starting to grow in the straw

5. Fast growing vegetables

In Spring and autumn choose fast growing herbs and vegetables to plant.

After a long winter, my stored and frozen vegetables are running low. Being self sufficient, it’s essential that I start my veggie garden early and succeed with an early harvest.

To guarantee myself an early harvest I need to choose short growing season vegetables to plant early in spring together with a heavy duty frost cover to help the growing process and avoid frost damage on my seedlings. By doing this, I will have fresh vegetables ready earlier then most people in my area plant their first seeds or seedlings

My favorite short season vegetables to plant in spring for an early harvest are:


Rocket (Arugula)

bok choi

wombok cabbage

spring onions

Chinese greens
Quick growing herbs – Soft herbs, especially parsley, chives, coriander and dill.

Don’t wait to start growing some of these plants that grow fast at home! They’ll be ready to eat before you know it!

Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit – Kitchen Herb Garden – Seed Packets, Pots, Markers, Soil Mix
Collection of Vegetable, Greens, Culinary and Medicinal Herb Seeds for Planting Indoor, Outdoor and Hydroponic
12 Easy to Grow Herb & 20 Most Popular Vegetable Seeds Variety Packs Bundle

Once you have indulged in these for a while and they are finished in your garden, the other later garden veggies will be ready to harvest.

Prepare the garden area again and replant these fast growing high yield vegetables again in the end of summer. Apply the same technique and these great short season vegetables will be ready before it gets too cold again and the growing season is finish.

Read more about homegrown food and what I do in spring here

6. frost cover

How to make vegetable plants grow faster:

If you live in a colder climate than a frost cover to avoid frost damage is a helpful equipment

It also helps speed up the growing process of your plant because it creates a warmer climate underneath the cover which will make the plants grow faster.

The frost cover I use is Micronet protection cloth against frost, wind, hail, and animals.  Great in colder places.  A thicker, stronger cover than other garden covers.

frost cover and flexi hoops
seedlings planted in a garden bed underneath a frost cloth
Winter garden bed covered up with frost cloth and snow on top

Its the best cover I have ever used. The material lets enough sunlight and rain in and protects against the cold and frost. It creates a micro climate under the cover and the seedlings thrive. Its also heavy enough that it can handle a fair amount of wind.

Growing things and amazon have great options of frost cloths for plants as well as other great equipment for planting veggies. You need garden hoops or other similar structure to hold the cloth up and give enough space for the plants to grow underneath.

UGarden Greenhouse Hoops for 3ft or Wider Grow Tunnel
WYRJXYB Plant Covers Freeze Protection kit
10pcs Garden Greenhouse Hoops, 19.7″x19.7″ Grow Tunnel for Raised Bed
Plant Covers Freeze Protection, 0.9oz 10x50FT Frost Cloth Plant Freeze Protection
Valibe Plant Covers Freeze Protection

7. Plastic Sheeting

A plastic sheet cover can prevent plants from freezing and extend the growing season. The heavy plastic sheeting warms the air temperature around the plants as well as maintaining warmer soil temperatures which leads to an increased growing period.

plastic sheet covers are generally used on top of low tunnels or hoop rows. They generate more heat than fabric covers which makes them ideal in cold climates. They are available in different thicknesses.

Greenhouse plastic sheet cover locks in moisture and heat, keeping your plants healthy and protected against extreme weather conditions like frost, cold winter, heavy rain and strong winds.

Yowlieu 12′ x 25′ Clear Greenhouse Plastic Sheeting
EWONICE Farm Clear Greenhouse Plastic Film Sheeting Cover,

f you want to provide an ideal growing environment and if you are serious about growing herbs and vegetables year round.
Using a greenhouse plastic sheet to cover your growing plants is a great idea.

The Plastic row cover provides a stable growing environment and can increase the inside air temperature a lot which increases the growing period!

You need hoops for the sheet cover to sit on to provide enough space for your growing vegetables. Both the plastic sheet cover and the hoops are very affordable. Extending your growing season with this method is both an effective and low cost option.

Gardzen DIY Hoops Grow Tunnel Mini Greenhouse, Garden Support Frame
FOTMISHU 6Pcs Greenhouse Hoops Rust-Free Grow Tunnel Tunnel

8. Stagger the planting

Stagger the planting and create a longer grow season

You don’t want to plant everything at once in the spring and leave it at that. Then everything is ready about the same time in summer. Once that is harvested there is nothing left in the garden to eat. Instead stagger the planting to create a longer growing and harvest season.

The ultimate goal is to spread things out so there is always some homegrown food available to harvest. 

9. Planting by the moon

Make sure you plant the right plants at the right time with a Moon calendar.

The calendar is simple to use and applies anywhere in the world.

When following the moon calendar, seeds germinate sooner, plants are healthier and produce higher yields

Moon planting is an old science-based technique that has been practiced by farmers and gardeners for a very long time. Its about being in tune with nature’s patterns.

The moon calendar will guide you on when to sow your above ground and under ground crops as well as best time to prune, weed and harvest. Cultivate, apply fertilizer and much more.

The 2023 Old Farmer’s Almanac Trade Edition
Moon Calendar for Gardeners

10. Grow tent

A grow tent is excellent to start seeds or seedlings during winter to give you a head start to the grow season so you can have homegrown vegetables ready to harvest early.

I plant seeds in my seedling tent before winter. Two month later (the coldest two month of the year), the rocket and the herbs are ready to harvest, the cabbage and peas are growing nicely ready to replant in my raised garden bed.

I put the seeds in small planter boxes in my grow tent
grow tent
my grow tent sits on a sheltered area on my sunny deck
My grow tent is positioned under a clear roof for extra shelter and warmth.
rocket growing
Two month after the shortest day the rocket is almost ready to harvest
cabbage growing
The cabbage seedlings are looking healthy

Small planter boxes work well in winter.

Good for winter and early spring planting. The small growing box is more heat efficient. It needs to be holes in the bottom for drainage.

Pea seedlings in a white planter box

It is a great option if you don’t have much space. They are great on a balcony or veranda or inside a growing tent. The growing tent needs to be placed somewhere sheltered to avoid wind damage.

Home-Complete HC-4202 Walk-In Greenhouse- Indoor Outdoor with 8 Sturdy Shelves
Worth Garden Upgraded 5-Tier Mini Greenhouse with Castors Wheels
Gardzen Mini Greenhouse Heavy Duty Portable Green House

11. Crop rotation

It’s a good idea to rotate your crops. This will reduce weeds, pests and diseases as well as improve the overall health and yield of the crop. Strong healthy crop results in a longer growing and harvesting period.

This is an easy cost free way to extend your growing season and harvest a bumper crop every year

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms
Rotation of Crops, Succession, and Companion Cropping

My story

There is so much reward and benefits in cooking and eating your own homegrown food. That’s why I decided to create a longer grow season for my vegetable garden. Homegrown produce is much more nutritious and taste better but that is only a couple of many reasons to grow your own food.

I love growing food and have been doing it for a few years now. In the beginning it happened that I lost a few seedlings early in the season to unexpected frost. I decided I need to purchase a frost cloth to avoid this happening again.

This simple garden cover did more to my garden then just protect my plants against frost. I soon discovered how fast seeds germinated and young seedlings thrived under the frost cloth. I bought some garden hoops, attached the cloth to it and used it like a hot house grow tunnel. It was more effective then the greenhouse I had previously.

vegetable garden bed with frost cloth cover

I extended my veggie growing season by creating a warm and sheltered space for my vegetable plants.

Once my summer garden was finish in autumn, I planted young seedlings in my outdoor raised garden bed under the cover as an experiment to see if I could get another late crop in before winter.

I was amazed how well it grew so late in the season.

Broccoli sprouter, spinach, herbs, bok choi and celery all did really well. My vegetable plants were established by winter time. I harvested what we ate and left the rest in. To my surprise my vegetables were healthy all winter even though I have many nights of hard frost and a few days of snow sitting on top of the frost cloth during winter as well as many cold days and night. My veggie plants survived and fed us through the coldest months. That would have been impossible without the garden cover.

Spring vegetables growing under a frost cloth

The veges were unaffected by the harsh cold. It gives me a good head start to the new growing season.

seedlings planted in a garden bed underneath a frost cloth
seedlings in late autumn
spring vegetables growing under a frost cloth.
2 months of cold weather doesn’t effect the young seedlings
young broccoli
Broccoli side sprouter plant. This variety has a short growing season compared with standard broccoli. That’s why I choose it for my early and late season crop
Green vegetables growing under a gardden frost cover
hearty green winter vegetables are doing fine under the heavy duty frost cover all winter

My growing set up is very basic. With just a few minor alterations I extended my veggie growing season a lot.

I choose short growing season vegetables like soft herbs, lettuce or Chinese greens to plant in the off season or sturdy greens like broccoli and cabbage for best outcome. Leave plants like tomato cucumber, beans, capsicum etc for the peak growing season.

Read more about my homegrown food here and what I do in spring here

I plant by the moon

A friend gave me a moon calender for my birthday a couple of years ago. I never thought of planting by the moon before that but decided to give it a try. It’s a very simple process. Now I plant everything in the right moon face, my vegetables are stronger and healthier with bigger yield then before I used the moon calander.

The Moon’s gravitational pull causes tides to rise and fall, it also affects moisture in the soil.

More moisture is pulled to the soil surface during the full Moon and the new Moon, it’s said that seeds absorbs more water then which results in faster germination and more established healthy plants. It makes sense to me and I won’t plant any other way!

Don’t hesitate any longer! Make the most out of your garden. Follow these easy tips for a longer grow season and get the most out of your vegetable garden!

It’s simple, fun, inexpensive and so rewarding. Enjoy your freshly harvested, homegrown vegetables for longer. You deserve it and you can do it!

Low tech equipment to extend veggie grow season:
Bonviee 5-Pack Seed Starter Tray Seedling Starter Kits, Plant Starter Kit with Humidity Domes
FLARMOR Floating Row Cover Fabric Blanket- Protects Outdoor Plants and Vegetables from Frost, Sun, and Insects
Gardzen 5-Set Garden Propagator Set, Seed Tray Kits with 200-Cell, Seed Starter Tray with Dome and Base
Set of 43 Assorted Vegetable & Herb Seed Packets – Over 10,000 Seeds!
Moon Calendar for Gardeners
SOLIGT Gardening Hand Tools with Basket – Garden Tool Set with Pruning Shears, Cultivator, Gloves

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Blogger, foodie, mum, gardener, qualified chef. I'm passionate about food, cooking and being food self sufficient. I hardly ever by fresh food. Instead I grow, gather, fish and hunt. The blog is about what I do on my lifestyle block and my recipes.

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