Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A look at my cold frame

Photo of three young artichoke plants in pots on a garden bench on a patio
Artichokes on bench, cold frame behind
My cold frame is a ramshackle structure which used to be our sofa;  it was a hand-me-down from a relative and I never liked it--either the upholstery or the actual design;  I took it apart and kept the wood/particle board frame from the seat section for growing some food.

This I filled with some rough organic material like woody trimmings and other uncomposted garden waste, a fairly thick layer of chicken bedding (manure and straw), and finally some garden soil mixed with a bit of bought potting compost.  I topped it with a glass shower door we've had for many years. 

The first year I grew some seedlings to transplant into the main garden:  things like chard and lettuce, and attempted to grow some beets and carrots.  The carrots failed completely, but I got maybe ten small beets (about the same amount grew in the main garden bed, too:  not a good year for beets).
Photo of a raised bed with young arugula plants and plastic bottle waterers
Inside the cold frame, March 2017
To assist with watering--I think lack of water was the main difficulty with beets--I've got some self-watering units which I made from plastic bottles.  The capless bottles have the bottoms cut off and are stuck deep into the soil neck down.  They're then filled with water, which drains out slowly into the surrounding soil, keeping things moist for longer.  Without these, I've sometimes needed to water my containers twice or even three times a day;  with them, I can go up to a couple days between watering.

At the moment I've got lettuce and spring onion seedlings in the cold frame, along with some self-seeded arugula and miner's lettuce.  I've also got my artichokes in pots, to be transplanted out soon.  Over winter I had a few young cauliflower plants growing slowly, but they've recently been transplanted into the main garden now the light levels are higher and the temps a bit warmer.

Once the lettuces and spring onions are gone, I hope to load it up with fresh chicken manure and grow some cucumbers and/or tomatoes (I attempted both last year with little success--slugs, I think).  It's in a warm place next to the house, facing south.  Prime growing for heat-loving plants here during our cool summers.

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