Grow vegetables through the fall with
cold frames, low tunnels
However, the return of cold winds and rain doesn’t mean that it’s time to hang up the trowels and turn under any remaining plants. Some scrap wood, plastic sheeting and a bit of effort are all you need to keep things growing through Halloween and beyond.
Cold frames and low tunnels make cold-weather gardening possible. Both types of structures function like scaled-down greenhouses. Even when air temperature are in the 30s and 40s, the temperature and humidity under a cold frame’s cover or a tunnel’s arch are remarkably higher.
I built my first low tunnel in March to cover seeds that I sowed right after the equinox. By mid-April, I had an abundance of radishes, peas and greens sprouting, even after several snowfalls. I used the same tunnel as a cover for tomatoes that I planted on May 1, which helped those plants become established before the month of chill and rain that we had in June.
Making use of cold frames or low tunnels in the fall enables gardeners to extend the season well into winter — or even grow year-round.
A free class on building and using cold frames will be held at the Schreiber Park Community Garden on Friday, Oct. 2, from 4-6 p.m. The garden is located at the corner of Schreiber and Bosworth in Rogers Park, right behind Clark Devon Hardware. The event will be hosted by the Rogers Park Green Space and Food Systems Coalition in partnership with Angelic Organics Learning Center. Contact Thea Carlson at 773-517-2193 or visit the coalition’s website for more information.
The Angelic Organics Learning Center will also host an intensive workshop on building low tunnels to cover large garden beds on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will take place at First Presbyterian Church, 6400 S. Kimbark Avenue. There is a $5 registration fee and participation is limited.