Monday, 9 April 2012

Using cold frames for early planting

Our experiment with early planting worked! We have some young greens sprouting up in the new garden bed we dug in March.

It's hard to tell if everything we planted is growing, but this Red Flame Lettuce is growing well. We'll thin it out as it grows larger. We also have some radish plants sprouting.

The week of crazy summer-like weather we had in mid-March sadly did not last, so we built a cold frame to protect the row of seeds we planted.
There are all sorts of tutorials online for building cold frames, many of which are somewhat labour intensive, and involve building a unit with hinges and glass. We opted for a simpler version as we knew the weather would soon be getting warmer, and it's worked out relatively well. 
One resource that is helpful to wrap your mind around the concept of gardening using cold frames is a manual by Eliot Coleman, called ' A Garden for All Seasons' which you can access here.

Andy nailed two lengths of wood together, repeated along the length of the row on each side. He then simply stretched a heavy sheet of plastic over the row, weighed down by rocks so the wind wouldn't disturb it. The plastic must be clear so the light can reach the plants, exactly like a greenhouse.

We remove the plastic on days when it's warmer, but will keep covering the row until the temperature at night stays above 4C ( 40F).
It looks like we'll have baby greens to eat by the end of April!

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