How to Get Started as Soon as Possible with the Growing Season

In the UK, especially its northern reaches, those of us who try to grow our own food often find ourselves up against our short growing season. While other countries can luxuriate in year-round growing conditions, most of us are constantly scrabbling to fit our crops in between the late last frost date and the early first frost. We do have a relatively short growing season and that is not something that we can change. We can, however, extend that growing season somewhat by taking certain measures to ensure that we can start planting outdoors as soon as possible.

Invest in a Polytunnel or Greenhouse:

A polytunnel or greenhouse of some description need not cost the earth but an unheated outdoors structure can buy you some precious extra gardening time each year and would allow you to grow things not easily grown outdoors in the UK climate. You can pick up a second hand one for next to nothing sometimes, or even make one yourself by recycling plastic drinks bottles or old glazing.

Use Cloches:

Cheaper and easier still, perfect for those with smaller gardens, are home-made cloches. You can make simple cloches with old drinks bottles, giving your hardy seedlings just that little bit extra protection against the cold at the very beginning of spring.

Plant Wind Protection:

One way to ensure you can get planting a little earlier and still have healthy, thriving plants is to consider ways in which you can give your site better protection against biting winds. Planting a good hedge, trees or shrubs in the right place can make your garden more sheltered, which is perfect for tender young plants early in the season.

Site Garden Plants Carefully:

Every garden site will have some warmer areas and some colder ones, depending not just on light and shade but also on the lie of the land, surrounding vegetation and a number of other factors. Choosing your planting sites carefully based on the needs of each plant can buy you valuable extra growing time at the beginning and end of the year.

Pre-warm the soil:

To get started sooner, you can warm up the soil in your garden beds sooner by covering it with a layer of black plastic. Alternatively, you could plant on straw or in raised beds with composting materials beneath, both of which will be slightly warmer for plants than when they are planted directly in the regular soil.

Start Seeds Indoors to Plant Out Later:

It is a great idea to get a jump on the season by sowing seeds indoors. Doing so will allow you to rear seedlings that can then be further on by the time they are hardened off and placed outside when the weather gets warm enough. While some seeds are best direct sown, many will be fine raised on a sunny windowsill then transplanted later.

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