Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Magic Boxes: Using Cold Frames to Extend Your Growing Season

As “Seaside Gardener” Nikki Jabbour is happy to report, simple strategies for extending your planting and harvesting seasons can be found in the pages of master organic gardener Eliot Coleman‘s books. You can make simple hoophouses, cold frames, and even greenhouses at a very low cost—and keep eating carrots, kale, and greens into November.

From Halifax News Net:

Many of us grew up with the type of vegetable garden that was planted in June, harvested in August and forgotten about until the next year. I’m happy to say that those gardens are a thing of the past. Today, Maritime gardeners often start planting directly outside in early April and the harvest can last well into the winter, thanks to a little ingenuity and simple protective measures.

Before rushing to the garden to plant more crops, there are several factors that will greatly increase your chances of success. First, pick the right crops. Certain vegetables thrive in cold weather, including types of kale, carrots, leeks, radishes, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, mâche, arugula, spinach and endive, to name a few.

The other important consideration is sowing time. Seeding at the proper time will ensure a crop that is large enough, but not too large by the time growth slows in late October. Many salad greens can be seeded throughout late summer and into early fall for a long succession of harvest, while others, such as carrots and leeks, should be about 85 per cent grown by the time the cold weather hits (I plant on Aug. 1 for a winter harvest). They will then “hold” in the soil all winter long, getting sweeter and sweeter as the temperature gets colder and colder.

How do you prevent these crops from becoming vegetable popsicles and freezing solid in the ground over the winter? There are several simple structures that you can build, which will add enough protection to prevent the ground from freezing. These include a cold frame, quick hoops or an unheated greenhouse structure.

‘Magic Boxes’

Cold frames are often called “magic boxes,” thanks to the bounty they provide. They can be basic structures made simply of straw bales arranged in a rectangle and covered with an old window pane or a piece of clear polycarbonate material. A cold frame can also be more permanent if it is built from wood with glass or plastic glazing. Design plans can easily be found on the Internet or in a good book, such as my favourites, Four Season Harvest and  The Winter Harvest Handbook, both by Eliot Coleman.

Using a cold frame will effectively move you about 1 1/2 growing zones to the south. So, if you garden in zone 6, you’ll be growing your crops in zone 7 1/2. That’s quite a difference. And, you can move another 1 1/2 zones further south by adding an interior layer of floating row cover on top of the crops in the cold frame.

A floating row cover is simply a spun fabric that is widely available in nurseries and garden centres. It allows light and moisture to pass through, but insulates the crops. By combining these two protective measures, you have just moved your garden about three zones to the south!

Read the whole article here.


Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More

Pass the Walnut Syrup?

Everyone knows and loves maple syrup, and in some states (like Chelsea Green’s home state of Vermont), it’s big business. However, it’s a widespread myth that maples are the only trees that can be tapped to produce sap, according to Michael Farrell, sugarmaker and director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest. Sap can also be collected […] Read More

4 Books for Growing Food in Winter

Don’t let cold weather stop you from producing and enjoying your own food. For many, the coming of winter simply means cultivation moves indoors or under cover. Small farmers, homesteaders, home gardeners, and commercial growers can extend the growing season with techniques outlined in these essential books. There’s no need for urbanites and small-space dwellers […] Read More

A Simple Way to Grow Fresh Greens Indoors This Winter

Just because the temperatures have started to drop doesn’t mean you have to live without fresh greens until Spring. Author and gardener Peter Burke’s innovative method of growing soil sprouts indoors can help you grow nutrient-dense greens all year long at a fraction of the cost of buying at market. Burke’s book, Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening, is […] Read More

In Remembrance: Toby Hemenway

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Toby Hemenway, a beloved teacher, author, and permaculturalist. In October of 2015, Toby was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite treatment that seemed to be working, the cancer returned this fall, and eventually Toby signed up for home hospice on December 16, 2016. He died […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com
+1
Tweet
Share
Share
Pin