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 Post subject: extending the season
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:48 pm
Posts: 2
Location: Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
I have a cold frame with a foundation auto opening vent for placing two seedling flats.

In the spring, I'll put row covers over raised beds.

I have a well insulated 8x12 shed with a glazed south roof and 220 gallons of stored water in dull black barrels to moderate temperatures for my containers and flats to extend the fall and spring plantings.

What else do guys do to extend the season? plasticulture for mulch and warming the soil?

I've wondered about putting clear plastic down in my raised beds (warms the soil quicker and more than other colors) over newspaper (to keep weeds from sprouting) but I'm not sure if that is any more effective than just putting black plastic down without the newspaper.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:40 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:58 pm
Posts: 71
I see you are in Zone 6B, I am in Zone 5B. I use to play around trying to extend the season, but eventully gave up, since a lot of work is necessary, and the extention of the season was of marginal benefit. Now I just take what Mother Nature offers.

Sometimes, I cover garden plants in early spring, with mixed success. Usually waiting a week or so achieves the necessary result with no gamble. Last year (2007)I lost all my 22 tomato plants in one night, even though I covered with plastic, and after that night the weather was fine. My view is it is not worth the effort.

I like the barrel idea, particularly if they can be warmed during the daylight sun. I installed a small 6000 BTU, Natural Gas heater (Northern Tools) in my 6 by 8 Greenhouse for starting seed, with a heating pad. I can go down to about minus 5 degrees, if the plants are not near a wall, On some very cold nights in March, I also add a 700 watt electric heater with fan to move the air. Even then on larger plants, sometimes there is a touch of frost damage on some leaves.

The Greenhouse is only used from about 15 February until the end of May. I have given up on lights in the basement, since experience has taught me, that the greenhouse light is almost twice as good, once the plants sprout.The plants are much more healthy in the greenhouse with natural light.

My two cents worth.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 2:18 pm 
Actually, I don't think it's a waste of time at all extending your garden season into the winter - especially if you're trying to make the most of what you can grow.

I have a very small cold frame (4' x 4'), & even tho our winter day temps drop into the 20's & our night temps here drop into the low teens (I'm inbetween Zones 6/7 since I'm close to the mountains), I've successfully grown greens, like chard, spinach, mache, arugula, kale, etc., throughout the winter with no trouble or problems.

I think the amount of trouble or problems with growing 4-seasons are what you make of them.

If I were you, Tom, I'd just keep experimenting. Seed is cheap, & the results can be wonderful. There's nothing like a fresh homegrown salad or stirfry with kale or chard in midwinter from your own garden.

Interesting reading for you would be any of Eliot Coleman's books on the subject. We've already used some of his methods, & plan to integrate more next year.

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