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Are you knee deep in Fall gardening and want to extend some more?

Posted Sunday, October 14, 2012, at 8:35 AM

A simple but effective solution for extending your growing season
Cherokee2 sent me a great picture of an easy, season-extending cold-frame. If we have the year we had last Winter, it could be an all-around growing frame and with a few more additions could be an all-year even if it gets cold, cold.

Right after Halloween is a great time to get free bales left over from Halloween events or yard displays. Old windows always seem to be around somewhere on the side of the road, ready for the trash collector.

I've been wanting to use a number of old sliding doors for many years, but the problem with them is weight. I can lift them, but even lifting one edge to harvest would be a challenge for Debbi and get me in trouble, so I use smaller, conventional windows.

Just thinking about this has started me thinking of all the other things I need to do outside, so I better get "crackin" while I have the energy and before the rains move in.

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A few thoughts about these frames before I go outside. They seem to be using the cinder block in the middle to support the glass frames. Good idea but also consider animals getting on top of the glass.

We keep PITA (a large 100lb dog) off our frames by tilting them at least 30 degrees AND putting a wire gate over top. The frame pictured probably needs some extra protection from cats, opossums, coons etc, from climbing on top and breaking the glass. (You know they are going to be curious)

If you are going to try to push the limits on cold, it would also be good to have some type of pull-over insulation or squares of foam to place on top. Remember to anchor whatever you choose from winds or nosy dogs who want to play.

I can think of a few solutions, but I really need to get outside. Maybe later if someone shows interest.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Oct 14, 2012, at 8:46 AM

Looking closer at the picture, I see they seem to have their garden fenced, so most small (or large) animals might not be a problem.

I should really do that but it causes issues to get the tractor in there and then there is always $$$$.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Oct 14, 2012, at 8:49 AM

Interesting. Straw bales are pretty easy to handle. I've wondered about a similar arrangement for less tender house plants.

-- Posted by jbillswms on Mon, Oct 15, 2012, at 10:13 PM

Water jugs filled and painted black as heat absorbers on the Northern wall could help on real cold nights.

I am sure it could keep brassicas and many leafy vegetables going all year long. They might not grow as well because of shorter daylight but they would survive.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 4:49 PM

great idea / I wonder about lettuce(s) ... do you think they can survive in this?

-- Posted by decorate1956 on Sun, Oct 21, 2012, at 4:16 PM

I believe leaf lettuce can be pretty hardy but the head lettuce may not make it. We have a local gardener who grows lettuce in early and late winter, maybe he will respond.

I am told that to harvest lettuce in winter, do not harvest while it is frozen. Instead, wait until temperatures get above freezing and the plants can naturally defrost themselves. If you harvest while it is frozen you will wind up with limp and slimy lettuce.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Oct 21, 2012, at 8:43 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. 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.