Thursday, September 24, 2009

Winter Veggies

Okay, Part II: Cold Frames
We farmers have the veggie bug, and we've got it bad. The short growing season in Vermont just isn't long enough for us to get in our full helping of cultivation and little greenlings (a.k.a. baby plantlets). So, we do the only natural thing, extend the growing season as much as we possibly can! How? Cold Frames! This way we can keep growing mesclun, onions, leeks, carrots, and asian greens even after there's a blanket of snow outside.

So, the other week I threw together a prototype of a cold frame out of some spare wood we had left over from the tomato trellises. Here is Ben being his own interpretation of Vanna White.

My cold frame is 8 inches tall in the front, and 12 inches in the back. It's got a storm window for the top(also called the light), and I just sized it to fit the window perfectly. There aren't any hinges on it, and I didn't include anything to prop it up because I wanted to be able to completely uncover the cold frames on the random warm days of fall. I plan to prop it up with different sized pieces of wood later on in the season when neccesary. Keeping it simple.

This is the cold frame uncovered in the green house, all ready for me to direct seed carrots into... and then me actually seeding the little guys.

Each cold frame will have its own thermometer mounted in it so we can carefully monitor each one's temperature. We want to do this to make sure that we prop them open when they get above 70 degrees. When you're transplanting into cold frames, it's important to keep in mind that the plants you start in seed pots aren't used to really high temperatures. Plants that are tolerant to colder temperatures from the beginning will do better over the winter of freezing and thawing.

Now, keep in mind that I have never grown anything in cold frames over the winter. All the information I have shared here I learned from Eliot Coleman. He came to the NOFA Winter Conference last year and gave a wonderful, informative workshop on his winter harvesting. He also has a great book called "Four Season Harvest" that's a fantastic resource for this kind of winter food production. I recommend him highly.

That does it for now, but I'll write more on baking and the approaching end of the 2009 growing season in the next few days! Stay tuned! Same veggie time, same veggie channel!

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