As fall approaches, most people think that harvesting fresh food is coming to an end; however, if you have a high tunnel, that doesn’t have to be the case.
Planting fall and winter crops in a high tunnel requires some preplanning. You must also be willing to pull some end-of year summer plants in order to plant crops that are ideal for cooler temperatures, like spinach, kale or carrots.
It is important to be aware of the first frost date in your area. Preventing dramatic temperature fluctuations is the most vital, and probably the most difficult, task. Using row covers at night and uncovering during the warmer days can help with this task. Uncovering the plants during the day will also increase air circulation and reduce disease probability. When planning your high tunnel, keep in mind which crops are sensitive to frost. If planting peas, it would be a good idea to cover them during flowering if there is a frost.
The maturity rate of each plant is also essential. Plant crops first that have a longer maturity rate. Consider using transplants and check the timing of harvest. For example, carrots can be harvested after the frost but before the soil freezes.
Your local WVU Extension Service agent can provide a schedule of crops to plant in your high tunnel to maximize space for fall and winter gardening.
By Stacey Huffman, WVU Extension Agent – Mineral County