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Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

Garden ramblings that got out of control (like my weeds)

Posted Sunday, September 27, 2009, at 9:57 AM

What a beautiful morning in Southern Middle Tennessee! The sun greeted us this morning and a pleasant coolness (59) as I walked the garden. It was even better when I picked my FIRST fig of the season. They sure took their time this year!

I planned to plant my fall cabbages two weeks ago. But when I saw the weather forecast, decided to wait to see how accurate it was going to be. If I had planted, I am sure I would have lost most of the seeds to washout or rot.

Today looks like a perfect time to plant, although I might have to protect them a bit later on since the average first frost is only two 2-3 weeks away. It seems that once we get a few frosts under our belt, there are a number of great growing days before a hard freeze comes, so I am going to take the chance.

I will also harvest some edible soybean. Not that there are inedible soybeans, but these are grown for eating straight from the pod or shelled like Lima beans. We prefer straight fro the pod. The Japanese refer to them as edamame, but as popular as these are in other cultures, I would bet there are many more names.

I read an article in "Farm Show" about a man who uses old chest freezers and/ uprights laid on their back, as raised beds. I tried that with a chest freezer a few years ago but eventually took it to the dump because of short sightedness on my part.

It is a great insulated container that only needs a few holes drilled for drainage - air and a glass or translucent top to allow light. It might do well to raise it slightly off the ground to reduce rust and decomposing from the bottom up, but my original lasted for years without much issue.

In ALL cases, you want to either remove the original doors or fix them so they can not be locked. This and air holes drilled onto the side are imperative for child safety and good for your plants as well. Just don't make the holes so big that you defeat the benefits of insulation.

I can envision attaching grow lights to back wall and using it to start seeds, then as the season warms you can open the lid, remove the lights and allow the sun to do its thing. If a frost is predicted, just close the lid for the night. If a hard freeze is forecast, lay a blanket over the top for insulation. The lights would also add some warmth.

A few concerns arise though. First is door safety. Second is the coolant in the lines and third would be appearance. The first two are safety issues and must be resolved. The third may not apply if you live away from neighbors and are single, but for most of us, we need to find a way to make it look better.

A simple way would be to paint it a color that blends in to your yard, For some of us in Bell Buckle, we might paint it bold colors with flowers, while others paint it green to match you lawn or brown to simulate wood (or your lawn if it is like mine). Paint it anything that makes it look like something other than a chest freezer laying in your yard. Maybe a mural would be nice?

Another option, but more expensive, unless you have wood laying around, would be to box it in like a conventional raised bed. Maybe you could find a fade resistant material that could be glued to the sides. The possibilities cold be endless.

Think of all the freezers and refrigerators that can be saved from the dump. Often the motors are still good and there is certainly some copper in the workings, so someone might be happy to gut it for you, although I once again caution you about the coolant.

Anyone else use this method? Any tips, warnings or ....?



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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.