Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold Frame of mind

I found a great article here about cold frames.  Oh how I love the idea of getting out there sooner rather than later.  I have begun my winter ritual...over dreaming the garden.  Over thinking where and what I shall grow. And planning to grow more than we have room for, of course!  I sometimes plan like I have a garden that is over an acre in size.  Then reality hits...I only have 1/4th of an acre TOTAL...My garden consists of:
a strip 18 inches by 20 feet
a patch 5 feet by 20 feet
a berry patch (poorly maintained...my fault) and the blueberries I think have been chomped by deer
2 raised beds about 4 feet by 6 feet (with plans for 4 more this spring)

So that is a grand total of 163 square feet more or less with plans of another 96 square feet or 259 square feet total (more or less, some gardens may be bigger or smaller.)  So here is my challenge this year.  As one of the goals set forth here, I am going to weigh everything I grow...or at least everything I get in the house (W. has a habit of eating in the garden.)  I am going to make a separate page where I list what I planted, spent, and grew.  I challenge my sister to do the same (ah ha something to make up for the jam challenge that never happened!) To see how cost effective the garden is.  I may even have to throw in cost/time canning/freezing...eggs...I am not yet sure if I'm up to that challenge just yet.

I am always amazed by people like this  sure they have some advantages
no young children who need to be cared for at this time
warmer environment
years of experience
but overall, they are self sufficient on just 1/5th of an acre!  And they produce enough to sell as well...
A girl can dream.

So here is my plan...
Check over the catalogs
Check with friends 
(there is no way we can use all the seeds that we order...we can't use all 30 tomato plants that grow from a packet...especially when we want to grow a couple of varieties) 
to see if they'd like some seedlings or seeds.
Order the above.
I need to plan and research the whole succession planting thing as well as interplanting!
I've been looking here
to get ideas...as well as here

Get moving on some cold frames and checking for cheap hay (could be used later for chickens and then compost, or mulch when the weather gets better...waste not!)
I also found an interesting little bit here about square foot gardening and making seed mats.
Then the weighing can begin.
I hope to have the first broccoli, lettuce, spinach, carrots, potatoes and beets in maybe in early March when the snow melts and I can see ground.
I also found this, a guide and the method of The Three Sister Garden, an ancient method of growing corn, beans, and squash.  We've been talking about growing corn this year.  This method seems like it would be best for climbing dry beans, and flint corn...both things I want to grow this year (and who could say no to squash?)
We also want to grow sweet corn.
We also want to try to seed save.
This will involve some careful planning so that the pollination times are separated.
Anyone done this before?


  1. If you try to figure out the cost of gardening and canning, it is not always a savings. But the savings is in the quality and safety of the food you grow yourself. You control the environment, not big AG. I never had a lot of luck with the 'three sisters' growing the way they should. Heirloom corn does not always grow as fast as the beans, so the beans have nothing to grow on. But it all grows and that is what is important.Good luck.

  2. In the past I have had some success in canning in a cost effective manner...I love the quality of homegrown, and the subsequent canned food and believe that it is of utmost unimportance, otherwise I would never even think of canning...I'd just go to the store and buy the cheapest item I could possibly find. Would you recommend then letting the corn grow for a bit longer and then planting the beans so the corn has more of a chance to grow? I love learning from others who have tried different methods.

  3. This is great information. We have been looking into cold frames as well, mainly to continue to grow greens throughout the year. My oldest child has an autoimmune disease that responds really well to raw vegetable and fruit drinks, and I do not like buying produce, even from Whole Foods, out of season (although I do it). Thanks for sharing all of this great info, I am off to do some more research.

  4. Hi there City Sister, I see you stopped by my blog. I harvested 410.5 lbs in 230 square feet of garden space. You just have to be creative, intercrop, grow things up and between...you get the picture. I don't know if I would try The Three Sisters in a small space, it may take up a lot of room. This year we are getting plots at the Community Garden and I am going to try it there. Thanks for stopping by

  5. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope your dreams come true for your garden. We have had a garden "always"; first as kid's and now as adults { we've been married for 28 years}. My husband goes overboard and plants about 3 acres of garden. I never buy vegetable from the store as I freeze or can everything. Try putting a white string border around your blueberries to keep the deer away.


Thanks for visiting with us girls...put your feet up and stay for a while.