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Extending the Growing Season

I want to try to extend my vegetable garden season here in Chicago. Suggestions please.

Extend the season by including cool weather tolerant vegetables for spring and fall. Plant onion sets, beets, chard, kohlrabi, peas, turnips and other cool crops from seed outdoors in mid to late April.

You can get an earlier start by covering plantings with one of the season extending fabrics. These row cover fabrics (sold as ReeMay, Harvest Guard and Fast Grass) help warm the soil for quicker germination while protecting the young seedlings from cold temperatures.

Or prepare the soil and cover the bed with clear plastic for 2 weeks. Lightly cultivate any weeds that sprout. Plant in the warmed soil and cover with the season extending fabrics. This will allow you to plant warm weather crops like peppers and tomatoes in early May instead of Memorial Day.

Extend your harvest in fall with summer plantings of broccoli, cabbage, greens and other cool season crops. You can keep planting short season crops like lettuce, spinach, radishes and beets into late summer for a fall harvest. Use the floating row covers to protect tomatoes, peppers and other frost sensitive plants for an extended harvest.


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