It is probably nearing the last weeks when you can plant seeds for winter. Once it gets too cold, the seeds will germinate but your plants will probably not reach maturity in time for fruiting for the winter season. Let’s look at the options that we have for germinating seeds successfully, as the cold evenings approach…
Greenhouses are a good investment and are pretty much a permanent structure. A good quality greenhouse will last you many years. Place your structure with the long side facing north to capitalize on the maximum sun exposure. In summer, you can always hang shade netting on that side if the greenhouse gets too hot. Try and get a greenhouse with ventilation that you can control.
Tunnels are considered semi-permanent and can usually be moved. Be careful of using sharp instruments around your plastic tunnel as you don’t want to puncture it. Make sure that you have secured it so that it cannot be lifted by the wind. Again, long side towards the sun for maximum exposure. You can plant in the ground or in seed trays inside your tunnel.
Hot frames are box like structures with sloping glass lids, that are placed on a warm surface, very often your compost heap. As your compost heap warms up it warms the hot frame. The same happens when placed on warm fresh manure. Your seed trays will be happy in there.
Cold frames have a dual purpose, they can be constructed the same way as a hot frame but they are used to harden off your seedlings, when they have grown sufficiently to come out of their warm place of germination before they are placed in the ground. You do this by leaving the lid open in the day time if it’s warm enough, to get your seedlings accustomed to cooler weather, and then at night you close the lid and/or move your seedlings inside. You can germinate your seedlings inside a cold frame in a warm sheltered spot.
Cloches are dome shaped glass ‘lids’ that are placed over germinating seeds and fragile seedlings. An inexpensive ‘cloche’ can be made out of a 2liter recycled plastic bottle. Remove the lid to allow for air circulation and cut the bottom off the bottle. Place this over your tender seedling to warm it up and protect it from frost, birds, slugs and snails.
Frost fleece is very useful to place over your in-situ seeds in the ground, to give them extra warmth and to have in place when the frost arrives.
Be bold, try new vegetables this winter – get excited. Buy the best quality seeds, like Franchi Sementi wonderfully exotic heirloom seeds and come and join Linda from Sought After Seedlings to learn all about Organic Vegetable Growing.