Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cold Frame Planted!

I've filled the second section of the cold frame with more lettuces, spinach, kale, kohlrabi, leeks and scallions.  Now it looks like this.  I may have gone a bit overboard with the salad greens.  I'll have to pick them young, rather than wait until they are big, and then eat lots of salads!  I also thought extra would be fine, and I can feed it to the ducks, which should arrive the first or second week of April.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cold Frame Construction

Thanks for the question about construction.  It's good to know someone is reading this!  We (or rather, Tim) built a new cold frame top, to be added to the other one, expanding the size.  All of these frames are made to fit our framed beds, which are the same width, 3.5 feet.  The beds were framed with barn siding material, just because we had some on hand and we wanted to use what we had.

Before the wind storm, we had attached the cold frame with short pieces of pvc pipe placed over the ends of the hoops onto a grooved piece of wood attached to the bed frame, as shown at the right.

After the storm, Tim decided to bolt it to the side of the frame as on the left, with wing nuts on the inside.  It's a little more work to get it on and off for watering and tending, but not bad.  It was quite windy again last week, and the thing held on!

The plastic over the hoops is screwed on to the hoops with 1/4 round pieces of pvc piping (3/4" round).

Tim took the piping on his table saw and ripped it into 4 pieces, as shown.

In order to screw through the pvc and the plastic and the pipe hoops, Tim pre-drilled each hole, which helped a lot to keep the screws from slipping.

The end hoops have an additional 1/4 round piece of the pvc to hold the edge of the plastic in place, on both the frame and the door, as shown.  The door is screwed onto the ends of the hoops and opens out.  When closed, it is held up by two nails that go through holes in both the door and the frame.  (Not shown, sorry.)
Tim nailed these pieces of plywood on the sides to hold the sides of the plastic down.  I held and stretched the plastic while Tim screwed.
A shot of the whole deal, upside down. I think those are the highlights of the construction.   While stretching and screwing on the plastic, we kept the frame flat and kept checking the ends to keep the whole thing square.  Once we had the plastic screwed onto the ends, the whole thing stayed pretty square.

There are more pictures, but I think these give the main idea.  Here's a shot of the two, now placed together to give a 12' covered bed.

Tim has also made two more frames with hoops which we intend to cover with frost cloth to cover the most sensitive plants (peppers, tomatoes) just after planting in May.  There are always a few freezing or almost freezing nights that time of year, and hail!  We aren't sure yet if or how we will attach the frost cloth.  We may attempt a way to roll it over the hoops, so we can remove it and put it back again at will.  We're just not sure it will hold in the wind, unless we tack it down real good.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Cold Frame Planting

I planted lettuces and some cilantro into the cold frame and it looks like this.  The lettuces were sown in the house 4 weeks ago.  The spinach has been in the cold frame since November.  The other lettuces planted in November didn't survive the cold.  Now I know.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wind Damage

On Wednesday night it was quite windy!  Apparently there were gusts to 50 mph.  Throughout the night we heard things going bump and ca-clunk, wondering what was loose.  Thursday morning Tim looked out to see that our cold frame had "flown the coop" (or at least off the bed) and was in pieces.  We thought that thing was indestructible, but I guess not!  See it behind the bed it had been sitting on all winter.

There was some spinach growing inside, and I'd been taking new plants out daily to harden off, with plans to plant them soon.  It's a good thing I hadn't planted the tender lettuces yet!  Tim already had a frame built to make another cold frame, so last night he finished covering it with the plastic and put it together, and now we're set.  This one is secured a little better, and as soon as we pick up some bolts we plan to bolt it down even better, so the next time we get wind like that we should be ready for it.  Here's a shot of the new cold frame.  Soon I should be able to get the lettuces planted, and some scallions and leeks.

Other than that, the seedlings in the house are coming along nicely.  I now have 6 varieties of peppers growing, and just started the tomato seeds as well.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Garden Plan 2011

Here is our current plan for 2011.  There still may be revisions, but for now I'm sticking with this plan.  We will be removing the bed that had previously been in the upper left (NW) corner, and will create the new long bed, going N-S to the right of the corn beds.  We're taking out the NW bed to allow for more accessibility to the duck pen, which will be outside the fence on the west side.  Also, that bed didn't do well last year, I think because it got awfully hot right next to the house.  I'll try some sunflowers and other flowers right next to the house and see how well they grow.

As before, this plan was created on  It's a lot of fun to play around with, and allows me to easily move things from one place to another while I decide what to do, with crop rotation reminders of what had been previously planted in each bed.

Here is a shot looking west, where we plan to house the ducks.  We're thinking of putting their house and run either along the fence, on the other side of the long berry bed, or behind/between the pines and the cottonwood tree, along a fence that will border that area (in front of the small trees in a row).  We'll remove the bed in the foreground that's framed with railroad ties, and put a gate in the fence leading to the duck area.

Other than that, I've received all the seeds I ordered, and started a few more seedlings on Monday.