ampersandprojectblog

off-the-grid and interconnected

Cold Frame Saga

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It’s a little bit sad. The old cold frame was the biggest hit on our Ampersand site tours, and we have dismantled it. It was amazing in many ways. It provided a great environment for growing greens in the winter, it had a ready made structure for throwing shade cloth over in the summer, and best of all was the Passive Solar Cold Frame Tender that opened the lid by itself, just with the pressure that was created by the light of sunrise. And it closed all by itself in the evening, all just with this contraption of bottles and tubes that we assembled. I wrote a blog post about it in 2014.

And I tended it well when we lived in the little cottage down the hill. Now I have to go out of my way to see how my garden grows. And the overhanging lid has also discouraged me because of the crouching and ducking necessary for gardening in that spot. So everything is changing.

When I noticed recently that the main bottle for our passive solar cold frame tender busted from ultraviolet exposure, I was gifted a new bottle immediately. This was a clear message that the solar tender must be used somewhere else. And I’ve got some amazing and artistic plans for it. But you will have to wait for that.314

Perhaps you have already seen the new cold frame that our interns made. Maybe you read my past blog post about our friend Clair Gardner’s Water Wise Planter that she has developed. We generally followed her instructions and made one of our own.

After the interns left the tending of our various garden beds was left to me, I knew it was finally time to discontinue use of the old cold frame. So I transplanted the kale and chard into the new cold frame.

Clair Gardner recommends just using the cold frame for baby greens, and I will, but first I needed to save my mature greens from my own neglect. And I had some onions grown from seed in the greenhouse just waiting for more growing room. So quickly my new garden took shape. I did plant lettuces in the understory of the more mature plants.

A couple weeks later, I’ve made a substantial harvest from the cold frame, and watched some seeds germinate. And I only watered it a few times. I’m making kale chips regularly so that I can actually end up eating all the greens I grow. They will last that way.  I’ll talk more about how at the dehydration class through Homegrown New Mexico.

I’m excited about this new year-round growing bed. Thanks to Clair and the interns for helping this happen!

Written by Amanda Bramble

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