Friday, October 25, 2013

New and improved winter gardening

At the end of each season, I do what most gardeners do.  I ask myself what worked, what didn't work, and what needs to be tweeked to fulfill it's purpose in a more efficient manner.  Last winter, I knew the cold frame was going to be in the "tweek" file.  While it worked wonders during the frosts.  It kept my winter greens happy and healthy.  When the winter snows came in December, it was obvious that the plastic sheet was not strong enough to hold the snow at the angle that it was at.  While the frame would have worked beautifully had I used old windows or other sturdy material, but that wasn't in the budget.

While at the Mother Earth News Fair this year, I managed to spend some time at the workshops (I couldn't last time we went due to having small children along for the ride.) One that I went to was about intensive gardening practices and how to extend the growing season and volume year round.  While many of the practices she espoused were ones I already did, it confirmed my thought that you need hoops in order to really do winter.

So this year I made a change.  I decided to make a mini-high tunnel.  I reused all the materials from my cold frame, and bought 5, 10' pieces of plastic 1" pipe.  I reused the plastic I had leftover from the last attempt, and I was ready to go.

I also decided that the amount of manure the chickens produce in a year is too precious for the deep fertilization that is needed for decomposition heat in a hot house/cold frame, I decided against digging a hole and putting in the precious manure.  I think my arms and back thank me too.

So here is my new and improved winter growing grounds.  I started a fall garden when I pulled the squash and using arugula, lettuce, broccoli, and chard will be added soon.  I also decided to use the rest of the squash bed for my garlic, which is that very dark composted area right next to my hoops.

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