Cold Frames, Greenhouses, and Beyond: Four-Season Gardening

Help extend your gardening efforts into all four seasons by exploring cold frames, greenhouses and hoop houses to enjoy fresh veggies all year long.

  • Garden fork and hoop garden covering.
    Digging in during the winter months. Howden
  • Swiss chard out from cover.
    Swiss chard out from cover.
    Linda Hezel
  • Raised garden boxes
    Raised garden boxes are another option for the do-it-yourselfer.
    Lori Dunn
  • A homemade cold frame.
    A homemade cold frame.
    Gregory Johnston

  • Garden fork and hoop garden covering.
  • Swiss chard out from cover.
  • Raised garden boxes
  • A homemade cold frame.

Learning to garden in four seasons – rather than one (summer) and fragments of two (spring and fall) – can be a bit like learning to think in four or five dimensions. But the rewards, say Colorado gardeners Rick and Shirley Visser, are mind-boggling abundance: fresh salads in December, carrots in February, spinach in March, and a whole new appreciation of what’s possible.

“Some people want to plant a garden and have it over with. But I’ve had more produce in fall than I’ve ever had in summer,” Visser says.

For Adam Montri, who, with his wife, Dru, and young daughter, Lydia, runs Ten Hens Farm in Bath, Michigan, the difference a high-tunnel hoop house made on their farm was the ability to reap an income year-round rather than just for the summer season.

In his job educating about hoop houses, a joint project of Michigan Food and Farming Systems and Michigan State University, Montri also noticed a less tangible, but infinitely richer, change.

“You always get a community growing around the farmers’ markets,” he says. “This makes that com-munity happen year-round.”

For many farmers in the upper two-thirds of North America, planting under cover – whether that cover is as minimal as compost-heated planting beds with floating row covers or as intricate as a 30-by-90-foot greenhouse erected over cherry trees – can alter an operation’s destiny and the farmer’s relationship with the land.

Donna Martin
2/3/2021 2:45:06 PM

I have 5 raised beds, built last year, one 2'X 50' against a fence, 4 that are 4' x 16'; I'd love to see plans for a combo shade/cold frame... in other words, that we could put cold frame materials on/over in cold weather, but have them be removable/retractable or replaceable with netting to provide shade from the harsh sun ...

11/7/2013 2:03:38 PM

Cold frame and greenhouse are the best things that can help a person become four-season gardener. I also love to do gardening and grow seasonal fruits and vegetables. For this particular reason I got a greenhouse build with the help of Envirotech Greenhouse. I am really happy with the greenhouse and enjoying the fruits and vegetables that I am growing there.

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