Thursday, December 3, 2009

Winter Garden? AKA Itching To Plant

Winter has finally arrived here in my little goober town. There was a heavy frost last night and lows in the 20s are expected through the next 3 days.
Winter is always a hard time for me. I have little extended family left. My mother, my grandmother, my only aunt and all my great aunts and uncles are gone now so the family rituals are hard to maintain with just the kid and me. Winter is also the time when I don't get to play in the dirt.
Maybe staying indoors deprives me of Vitamin D from the sun but I hate being cooped up in the house. I search the web for more seed suppliers, researching veggie varieties I have not grown yet. I make little scale drawings of the garden space trying to figure how many more raised beds I can fit before I run into the neighbor's fence (do you thing he'd let me plant stuff in his yard too?). 
These beds have been awesome. So far they've been completely free of Bermuda grass. Very few weed seeds have made it into the raised beds and I keep the stuff that doesn't need polinating covered to keep the bugs off.   I built these beds early last Spring.  Here's how. You'll need 8 cedar 1 X 12s for every three beds, one cedar 2 X 4, landscape cloth and rust proof screws. Leave 6 wide boards full length, cut the last 2 wide boards and the 2 X 4 into 30" pieces.  Dig out a hole 31" X 8'2" and 3" deep. This step really is worth the effort. Line the hole with landscape cloth, extending the cloth at least a foot beyond each end. Screw two full length 1 X 12s and two 30" 1 X 12s to make a rectangle like in the photo. Place one 2 X 4 in the center as a brace and securely screw to the frame. Lower the frame into the hole you dug and backfill around the outside edges. Fill with garden soil, humus, compost, whatever combination you like to use as a growing medium.
The hoop covers are made from black plastic irrigation pipe. I cut 6 to 7' lengths and just pushed the ends into the soil. I tied the intersection with twine for stability. This one here is covered in cheesecloth 'cause I live in the boonies and couldn't get any tulle. But polyester bridal tulle makes a great row cover. It keeps the bugs from munching on your tasty plants and eliminates the need for pesticides.

That's all well and good but what about WINTER? Here's my experiment...cover those same hoops in plastic and grow cool weather veggies. It's still at the experiment stage but here's what the same bed looks like today.

Those lettuces look pretty darned happy. The plastic also keeps them from being injured by the dry winter wind. If they survive the next few days of cold nights I'll be able to declare a success. I'll report back to let y'all know how it goes.


  1. Good Job on the row covers. I gotta tell you, I love the profile picture of the two cats.

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  3. Thanks. That's Yeti (the big one) and his buddy Tora. When Tora was a kitten she used to lounge on Yeti like he was a big bed. Yeti loves babies and he's raised many, many rescues.