Humble Garden

ReSkilling for future food independence

Cold frames, in the cold rain

Posted by Nika On April - 6 - 2009

KD with baby goat

(KD with fast growing kid)

Wow, lets talk about hardy plants, yikes! I made or rather, I jury rigged, a cold frame on the raised bed that will hold brassicas (early cabbage, kale, and bok choy) to see if I could get them out there before our last hard frost date of May 15th.

I bought some 4 mil clear plastic and 2 ten foot 1.5 inch diameter plastic pipe. We cut the pipes in half to make 4 five foot lengths for support, in theory that is.

Humble Garden 2009: 4 mi plastic for cold frame

This thickness is strong enough to deal with the elements but clear enough to get solar gain.

Humble Garden 2009: 4 mi plastic for cold frame

I stuck the 5 foot length pipes into the bed, as you see below.

Humble Garden 2009: making a cold frame

Humble Garden 2009: KD and cold frame

And then KD, seen above, and I made holes for the seedlings (I peeled off the peat pots when planting)

Humble Garden 2009: transplanting

Humble Garden 2009: all plants transpanted

And then, using duct tape and varying levels of angry kevetching not rated for young ears, I draped the pipes with plastic.

Humble Garden 2009: Completed cold frame

Humble Garden 2009: Cold frames

One important part of this plastic is to keep the darn chickens who are still free ranging off my plants. As I was planting these seedlings, I turned my back for a few moments and the darn rooster jumped right up and ate 5 bok choys!

As soon as I finished enclosing this bean trellis with plastic and stepped back, that evil rooster jumped right up and proceeded to menace my cold frame. He very deliberately worked hard to find a way in.

I hope you can see him in the photo above. I also have a few other shots below.

Humble Garden 2009: rooster trying to get into coldframe

Humble Garden 2009: rooster trying to get into coldframe

After that beautiful day when I built the cold frame, it has been raining and blowing non-stop. Those poor little seedlings have been subjected to sub-32 weather at night and direct weather exposure because the high winds continue to blow everything off the raised beds! This includes having the plastic directly ON the seedlings with a load of icy cold water pooled above them.

I figured I had lost these poor seedlings but today I ran out in the rain and looked and saw that they had already grown new leaves! Crazy things!

I guess they like this sort of weather (I know they are cold hardy but this is just crazy)

I am very thankful for their resilience and I am looking forward to some VERY hardy cabbages, kale, and bok choy!

My next project is broadcasting carrot seed (with sand) and also getting some broccoli going out there.

10 Responses to “Cold frames, in the cold rain”

  1. Heidi says:

    Wow! Fantastic job. I wish I had that much available lawn that gets full sun.

    The rooster made me laugh. I’m sure it’s starting to made you angry, but it sounds like he’s persistent!

  2. Nika says:

    Heidi: thnx :-)

    We are dreaming of a greenhouse and looking at trees to cut down for MORE sun!

    That darn rooster is too smart for his own good – we have to walk around with sticks when we are outside to protect ourselves against his attacks. He is a bantam so he is just too tiny for the stock pot! Pretty soon the husband is going to completely close the chicken run so that I can get planting in earnest once this rain stops!

    Love your lake view!

  3. maya704 says:

    A few years ago, after reading “4 seasons harvest”, I was inspired to sow some very late spinach just a few short weeks before the 1st frost. Being lazy, I laid some tomato cages down along the center of the bed and draped heavy plastic sheeting over top, held down with a few stones around the edges. Because of the cold short days, the spinach was slow to germinate and grew super slowly, reaching maybe 5cm when the 1st snow came. I thought it was all over but left everything in place mostly cause I couldn’t be bothered to clean things up in the cold. In late feb the snow started to melt and beginning of march I had a peak under the plastic sheeting. The damn things were not only alive and well but had grown a couple more cm! I had baby spinach salad mid march and a first true harvest of full grown spinach 1st week of April. And I’m talking Canada here, zone 4B… Hurray for hardy greens!

  4. maya704 says:

    PS that rooster looks like such a conniving thief in the last shot!

  5. Heather says:

    Wow! Looks great!

  6. Nika says:

    M: that rooster is the bane of my existence! We finally got him locked up so he wont be soup soon.

  7. Nika says:

    Heather: thnx!

  8. […] wrote previously about our cold frames. I thought I would show you a few shots from around the garden showing those raised beds as well as […]

  9. Robert says:

    Did you think that this plastic added enough sunlight to grow a successful crop?


  10. Nika says:


    definitely! Here is an image that show this bed a short while later

    Humble Garden 2009: kale, cabbage, spinach, bok choy, onion

    (if that doesnt work, try this link

    It all grew like gangbusters

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About Me

We are a family of 5, including Nika, Ed, Q (14), KD (7), and Baby Oh (4). We garden 1024 square feet of raised beds plus assorted permacultural plantings. We also have 13 LaMancha dairy goats, 40 chickens, and one guard llama.



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