Gardener's Grapevine 2013.09.05

As I sit on the front porch this beautiful Sunday afternoon, a few things are on my mind. Fall will soon be here, it’s time for the Fulton County Fair, making my garden produce last as long as possible, and if the sounds my husband is making are any indication, the new oak floor in our living room is almost done.

I always have mixed feelings about fall. I love the apples, cider, and crisp cool evenings, but I despise knowing that ice and snow are around the corner.

The Fulton County Fair is the best around without question—great food, clean, lots of well-organized displays and entertainment. It’s something we never miss in our family and our friends usually go with us, too. Bring on the rib-eyes and milkshakes!

This brings me to my last point: extending the garden. I’ve been doing a little reading on the subject and discovered that if you don’t own a greenhouse, the next best thing is cold frames. Most of the articles I have read recommend making them 18 inches high in back and 12 to 14 inches high in front. This angle gives enough pitch to let rain run off.

I like the idea of using old house windows for the top which is also the door. What a great way to repurpose the windows. One article I read said that farmers in the past had put one and a half feet of hot manure under the cold frame and filled it with good soil. The decomposing hot manure kept the cold frame heated like a greenhouse. We have a terraced area off the back deck that is perfect for this.

In the summer I grow herbs and flowers in these beds, but I could easily plant produce and keep it going. This would be especially nice since Art has it all rigged with automatic watering. I am seriously thinking of doing this as it would keep us in fresh vegetables longer. There are many great websites for reference in building cold frames and for what works best to grow in one. 

With our grandson moving forward into the soon-to-be world of solid food, my daughter wants to make her own baby food. I applaud her for this, as it’s a hard thing to do especially when you work long hours five to six days a week.

I’ve wanted to try growing with cold frames for a long time. It’s not a new idea at all, and in some parts of the world it’s the only way some people can have a garden. What do I have to lose? All the windows from when we replaced them in our 150-year-old home are in the basement, so in our case the cost would be very minimal.