Garden Tools to Extend the Season

A guide for which tools work best with different vegetables.

Protecting delicate seedlings

Protect delicate seedlings with tipis sold under the names Wall-O-Water or Kozy-Coats.

Jerry Pavia

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Get Your Garden Growing Early

There’s a considerable amount of diversity in these season-extending tools. Here are a few examples of what works well for different varieties:

Tomatoes:

  • Wall-O-Waters – Prewarm the soil and plant up to eight weeks before the final frost date.
  • Floating row cover – Set up the row cover with hoops a week prior to planting. Row covers will sufficiently protect tomato seedlings during the cold snaps and late frosts during the last four weeks. The plastic tunnels may require an extra blanket if the temperature dips much below 30 degrees.

Brassicas:

  • Floating row cover – Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage handle cold relatively well, and can be planted six to seven weeks early under row covers or tunnels.
  • Hot caps – Good protection about four weeks prior to the last frost.
  • Solar umbrella – Offer protection during the month before last frost; add plastic jugs filled with water to squeeze out an extra couple of weeks.

Peppers:

  • Cold frame – Peppers are typically tender and do well in the cold frame four to six weeks before the final frost date. Close the lid at night even when the temperatures are above freezing to keep them happy.
  • Solar umbrella – This will protect plants from cold snaps and wind during the three weeks prior to last frost.
  • Hot caps – Plant two weeks earlier using hot caps or cloches.
  • Floating row cover or plastic tunnel – These keep wind and frost off peppers during the last month.

Melons and Squash:

  • Floating row cover or plastic tunnel – Spread out black plastic a week or two prior to planting, and set out the plants up to four weeks early underneath these protective tunnels.
  • Solar umbrella – These will protect tender transplants three to four weeks before the last frost. These can also be used to encourage prompt germination when the seeds are planted two weeks early.

Greens:

  • Cold frame – Start seeds three months early in the cold frame.
  • Floating row cover or plastic tunnel – Set out transplants eight weeks prior to the last frost, or start seeding six weeks early.