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lettuce garden-with cold frame

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    Posted: 04 November 2012 at 14:16
We started a lasagna garden (it's a method of flat sheet composting), then put sides on it so now it's considered a raised garden. It is planted next to the house on the south side (where it gets the sun) with swiss chard, butter crunch lettuce, and green seeded simpson lettuce and one volunteer tomato. It's so handy, just steps from the kitchen.

Then this year we added a cold frame--just a frame of wood and cheap plastic to cover it. We'll probably upgrade the plastic next year.

Usually our gardens are done by the end of September here in WI, but right now, it's starting November and the lettuce is beautiful. The tomatoes I brought in yesterday--though they are still green. Our temperatures are getting down to 26 degrees F. It's amazing. Salad any day and lettuce for sandwiches. Can't beat it.


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Margi Cintrano View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 06:20
Feather, Buon Giorno,
 
LASAGNE GARDEN ... Now, you can imagine what has gone through my 50% Italian Chip, when I saw Lasagna Garden !!
 
Fabulous means of solar growing ... Your Lettuces Are Gorgeous.
 
All my kindest regards.
Margaux.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 06:31
Margi,
 
Just so you understand, the term "lasagna garden" came in a few years back to describe a form of sheet composting. Basically, instead of maintaining a compost pile, you layer the materials right in the garden---just as you would do making a lasagna. The organic material serves as a mulch and, as it decomposes, worms and other members of the microherd pull it down into the soil.
 
It's a really great system, providing you have ample quantities of organic matter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 06:35
That's a really good looking unit, Feather. And a great design: simple to build, simple to maintain, and effective.
 
Can I ask how big that one is?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 06:41
Brook,
 
Thanks so much for your expertise and knowledge and taking the time to explain this to me.
 
Appreciate your coaching.
 
Kind regards,
Margi.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Feather Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 06:54
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

That's a really good looking unit, Feather. And a great design: simple to build, simple to maintain, and effective.
 
Can I ask how big that one is?


Certainly! The garden is about 5 feet x 14 feet.

There are two separate cold frame structures each 7 feet wide. They can be lifted off and stored behind the landscaping bushes next to the garage during the summer.

When things do start to freeze off and we don't need to open it anymore for winter, we'll put some heavy landscaping pavers on the 'windows' areas to keep them from being caught by the winds.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 07:39
Feather,
 
Would this work for the Lemon Melons and the Piel de Sapo ( Frogskin ) Melons from Spain ?
 
I can see this is a wonderful means to protect winter veggies and fruits, and herbs too.
 
Thanks for posting.
Margi.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 09:03
very nice, feather -
 
would you be able to post the plans for this, or a website to the plans?
 
here in north-central montana, it is much too cold to have one of these over the winter, i imagine, but starting one in the spring would be nice for these types of produce, which i want to explore a little more in the coming year.
 
thanks for posting!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Feather Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 09:44
Margi, thank you for your post.

This specific garden--I use mostly for cold weather crops during the fall and spring (next spring). Like lettuces that bolt in warm weather. Radishes, Parsley and Cilantro grow nicely too. It looks like we can winter over leeks in this garden.

I was so pleased, picking the salad greens, right off the kitchen, finding a few parsley growing, and chopping it up to give more flavor to the salads

I expect to use it mostly for lettuce, collards, kale and swiss chard during Aug-Nov and then again March-May. In May, prime growing season here until August--the lettuces and herbs will bolt in the heat, so anything we have extra in transplants and seeds (not lettuces)--anything will get put in this space for those summer months.

The melons, as well as cucumbers and squash, are long viney sprawling plants that take up much more space than I have in this garden. They will be put in the bigger-non covered, tilled gardens. They do best at 60 degrees F to start, then 70-90 degrees F to flourish and ripen. That only happens from May to August with a close eye on watering and watching for disease during the warmer months.
So although I'd love to grow some lemon melons--one they call lemon-drop here during the winter, it can't happen until next summer in the bigger gardens. I'm looking forward to growing them!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 09:48
Hi Feather, I remember when I was a kid, some odd 50 years ago, we had a similar contruction. In fact, most people around here had one and they all grew salads. We called it a "serre", which is simply french for greenhouse. Best daily salads, mostly lettuce, fresh from the (compost)ground!
 
In summertime my mother also made yoghurt in it, which is quite easy as you know; warm milk to a good body temperature, add a few tbsp of natural yoghurt, put in a bowl, cover and put in the "serre" until the yoghurt is done. I still make yoghurt like that in my greenhouse in summertime. I believe I read already that you make your own yoghurt in the oven. Your construction may save you a few $$ on electricity!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 10:16
I can see this is a wonderful means to protect winter veggies and fruits, and herbs too.
 
Feather's rig is technically a cold frame, Margi, and is one of several season extenders. In effect, it is a mini-greenhouse, that lets her start things earlier in the spring, and continue them later in the fall. It could be used to over-winter root veggies as well.
 
Depending on winter conditions, that might or might not require additional mulching. For instance, down here I wouldn't need any mulch. But Ron might need to use straw in addition to the cold frame.
 
To actually grow over the winter, one uses a hot frame. Construction details are the same. But you start with a bed of fresh manure. As it decomposes it produces heat as a by-product. But it takes a ready source of a fair amount of manure, which is why you don't see them too often anymore.
 
The real key to winter growing, however, isn't heat. It's light. The amount of sunshine is the controlling factor.
 
If you're at all interested in learning more about this, I recommend Eliot Coleman's Four Seasons Harvest as an ideal primer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Feather Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 11:01
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

very nice, feather -
 
would you be able to post the plans for this, or a website to the plans?
 
here in north-central montana, it is much too cold to have one of these over the winter, i imagine, but starting one in the spring would be nice for these types of produce, which i want to explore a little more in the coming year.
 
thanks for posting!


Tas--we used that garden to overwinter chard and leeks last year and it seemed like a logical extension this fall to put a cold frame on it--southern exposure, reflection off the garage wall.
We didn't use plans--just measured the garden's raised base and framed the front (short), the back (taller), and angled sides using one by eights (I think), very inexpensive. Then made some framed in 'windows', added them with hinges on the back and handles on the front/top. Covered it in plastic. We spent maybe 8 hours total, winging it--measuring, cutting, fitting, plastic and staple gun.

To look at interesting plans we looked at google 'images' and typed in cold frame. Lots of neat plans there!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 11:06
sounds great - thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2012 at 17:48
Ron, if you go this---or a similar---route, the one thing to keep in mind is that keeping the inside warm is not, repeat, not, the problem. Just the opposite. You are creating a solar kiln, and tempertures can easilyy go into the hundreds if you keep it sealed. So be sure to provide some ventilation.
 
The simplest way is a graduated front brace. That way you can raise the cover in increments, depending on ambient temperature.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Feather Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 December 2012 at 14:37
Just a reminder, this is our first garden with a cold frame and we are just learning.

Well, it's December 7th and I fully did not expect ANY lettuce to be still growing as we've had freezing temperatures consistently at night, and sometimes freezing temperatures as the high of the day.

I went out there (afraid I'd run amok with a buck or doe, ha ha), to check it, and there is a significant amount of romaine and chard growing, enough to keep us in sandwiches and maybe a few salads even now.

I'm totally surprised and very pleased about it!!!
I'm making chicken salad, w/grapes, toasted sliced almonds, white pepper, sugar, mayonnaise, grapes cut in half and celery finely chopped (if at all), and it will be piled high over whole wheat bread and lettuce from the garden. Who'd have thought that was possible in December? Not I!

~Feather
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 December 2012 at 15:10
Feather, your lettuces are thriving, healthy, robust and HAPPY like Mom !   Mare.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 December 2012 at 18:26
Feather, lettuces and dark greens are fairly hardy. There's no reason, with that cold frame, that you can't keep them growing all winter.
 
Cos type lettuces (i.e., Romaine) are particularly tough. I've had years where the leaves would actually freeze solid. But as soon as the sun thawed them, they'd be just fine.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Feather Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 December 2012 at 08:32
I just wasn't expecting to see it growing at all!
The parsley was growing great too! We had our first tiny bit of snow this morning.
If I'd have known how fun it is to have something growing into the fall and winter, I'd have done this years ago.
Thanks for all the encouragement. ~Feather
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