Coldframes

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Coldframes

Postby mannytheseacow » Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:27 pm

I built these cold frames this spring a la Four Season Harvest:
Image

I'm really loving them. Just a 4 x 8 box with a hinged lid of glazing. I put them right onto grass and left them closed a few hot days and killed all the grass, then no-tilled my seed right into the stubble. They've survived many cold nights now. I had my freezer full of turnip greens by early June. I can regularly go out there and fill a grocery bag full of greens. There is a ton of chard, bok choi, mizuni, spinach, leeks, and vit in there right now. As silly as this sounds, the thing I used to go to the grocery store for the most was salad greens. I could grow some in warmer months, but colder months I was still dependent. I haven't been to the store now in ages. Greenhouse is the next project come spring.

They are the same size as my rabbit tractors which is nice because in the hottest weather I can pull the wired lids off the tractors (seen to the right) and just open the cold frames all the way and put the tractor lids on top to keep the chickens out. I only really worry about predators getting into the tractors in the colder months.
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Re: Coldframes

Postby matt walker » Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:26 pm

Sweet! You are going to get cold enough that production will stop completely for a few months, yes? Awesome that something that simple weaned you off the store, it's amazing how easy it is to stay out of there once you figure it out.
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Re: Coldframes

Postby mannytheseacow » Sun Nov 02, 2014 9:50 pm

Yes, in fact, that is one of the biggest concepts I got out of that book. You can't extend production but you can prolong the harvest. Production is virtually at a standstill at this point but the species and varieties I have are tolerant of the cold and very full, so the frames are basically just acting as refrigerators for the next month or so. At some point everything will be down, which I'm looking forward to so I can give a good application of compost to the beds and get better organized for growing next year. I've got more than enough put away to get me through the lag. It's just fantastic.
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Re: Coldframes

Postby Jenny-the-Bear (grr) » Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:50 am

Nice. That reminds me, I need to make some hinged lids for the smaller raised bed, so I can put some cold weather greens in there. I don't know how far they'll make it, but i want to give it a try. If they don't produce anything before it gets too cold, I'll have it ready to plant very early in the year, anyway, and get a jump on growing some spring greens.

I have some small glass fridge doors, (from convenience store remodels) I want to use a couple of those for the lids.
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Re: Coldframes

Postby mannytheseacow » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:01 pm

I was totally thinking the same thing when I was reading through your thread on your awesome raised bed setup. It's actually what reminded me that I needed to put something up about the cold frames. They're just so easy. Those refrigerator doors would be perfect.
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Re: Coldframes

Postby Jenny-the-Bear (grr) » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:36 pm

I'll pass your compliments on to my DH, he built the raised beds. And they are awesome, I love them.

I did haul and unload most of the compost in them, though. I like to keep the soil level up, so it's easier to tend in the summer, hard to reach the centers if it gets too low. The garden is mostly my project every year, plus the preservation of food.

We've got 8-10 days before another freeze. I suspect we'll be running out of the warm-ups after that. But that gives me a little time to set something up. I still have my fall clean-up to finish. Got a bit done yesterday.
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Re: Coldframes

Postby mannytheseacow » Sat Nov 15, 2014 8:24 pm

I hesitate to go in the cold frames in the early morning or late afternoon so as not to let too much cold air in. Since daylight savings, I'm at work at the convenient time to enter, so I can only really open them on the weekends and then harvest as much as I can. I've been anxious all week to peek in and see how they are doing since it's been in the teens and 20s all week. All the way down to 12* last night. So far, so good. The chard, spinach and leeks are holding up very well. The bok choi, not so much.
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Re: Coldframes

Postby Jenny-the-Bear (grr) » Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:22 am

Our weather is so variable that I'm hesitant to do anything by way of greenhouse or cold frame, without an automatic vent opener. I killed a mini-greenhouse full of seedlings one year, had to start over, when the weather was only low 40's, and overcast. The mini-green still got hot enough that I had steam-cooked seedlings. We've had very cold temps this week, but in about a week we're going to see a few days in high 50's, and maybe low 60's. It does that almost all winter, a few days here and there that are almost toasty.

I need to put aside the money for a couple of those so I can get on with it. I'll have to have a couple of Plexiglas panels for the vents, glass is too heavy for those vent openers, unless you buy really expensive ones, and I can't spend that much on them. Hmmm, it just occurred to me, I was thinking of those glass fridge doors, weight-wise. But I have some old aluminum-frame windows, one of those might be light enough for a vent opener to handle. I'll have to root around in the barn and see what else I might have.

Lots of green there in your cold frames! Not quite sure what's what, but it looks like food to me. So nice to have fresh greens in the winter. I want to put out some lettuce and green onions. Just don't want to steam them by accident.
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Re: Coldframes

Postby mannytheseacow » Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:32 am

I've only done that twice, Jenny, and it was early on. They can take up to about 70 in full sun ok with just minor bleaching. If it's going to get anywhere near that I just crack them an inch with a scrap of old 2x4 or plywood scrap. It doesn't take much to keep them from frying. It can be a pain worrying about the weather but not nearly as much of a pain as driving into town to buy food! ;)
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Re: Coldframes

Postby matt walker » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:34 pm

I found a picture of you in your coldframes Manny...

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