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Wintering Boxes

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Wintering Boxes

Post  dano on 8/20/2012, 6:56 pm

I know it is a little early, but I am wondering what others do to over-winter their boxes. Can I, or should I, grow a cover crop? Maybe something that fixes nitrogen? Or should I cover the boxes? It seems like it would be hard on the soil to leave it exposed all winter.

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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  camprn on 8/20/2012, 7:08 pm

What is your location? If you are in the north, some folks cover their gardens, I don't. Cover crops are a very poor choice for SFG. Basically you are introducing a plant that you will struggle to turn under as 'green manure'. This works great in fields and row gardens where you can get a machine in there to help with the backbreaking chore. My opinion is you would be better off working a good compost pile and then put compost, as Mel suggests, into the garden to recharge it.

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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  rowena___. on 8/20/2012, 8:19 pm

i keep mine growing year 'round. i use the PVC pipe and plastic cover set up shown in the ANSFG book. i live in zone 7, so right now i'm still in the middle of summer crops. around the end of august/first of september i set out fall crops, then toward the end of september i'll put in winter crops.
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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  rowena___. on 8/20/2012, 8:20 pm

also, i do a fair amount of winter sowing in the garden, so that all my transplants are already acclimated to their final destination.
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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  Goosegirl on 8/20/2012, 8:41 pm

I am currently in the process of reducing my compost operation so my huge pile is going to be used as a mulch/cover for my 8 boxes after I clean them in the fall. I expect it to finish decomposing under the snow for the winter, then I am going to turn it under in the spring (helps me see just how workable the soil is after the long hard winter) and start planting again. I built a compost tumbler and am converting another barrel to a standing bin to hold what is waiting to go in the tumbler. For the size of my boxes I think this will be a good option for me for winters. I will let you know next spring how it works out! happy2

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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 8/21/2012, 8:04 am

Hi,

I plant red clover as a cover crop. I believe cover crops are recommend by Mel. On the boxes which do not get a cover crop I heap leaves on them. The leaves keep out cats and weeds, plus keep the box nice and moist for an early spring planting. Plus two of my boxes get a cold frame and some are planted with carrots, spinach or onions, which will all over winter here. (Yorktown new zone 8 ) Try an experiment this year and see what you like.

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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  llama momma on 8/21/2012, 8:58 am

After Fall gardening I throw compost on it, put tarps on everything and let it rest. This keeps out latrine seeking cats too. My barn cat lays on it anyway to sun herself. Late winter when a few warmer days sneak in I pull off the tarps, add compost stored in the garage and its all ready come Spring. And I'll still add a little more compost when planting. I've read compost can take all of two years to fully break down. I like adding to it often. I think you can over due compost at some point (re: salts I believe) but I've only been at this for 2 years and don't see any problems (yet).
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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  CharlesB on 8/21/2012, 9:09 am

The PVC like electrical conduit (bendable, lil cheaper than PVC) bent and criss crossed in 4x4 beds and plastic over that. Very inexpensive and had good results with it last year. Had a number of plants under it to test what would make it with no heating. The cabbage handled it best. Went dormant and then grew very quickly in the spring.

This year I will experiment with kohlrabi's and fava beans. Fava beans are a disaster here in the spring/summer (too hot) so I am going to see if overwintering under the plastic domes is feasible.

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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  bakermtb on 8/21/2012, 9:26 am

I was growing fall crops into late Dec in Maryland. I stopped and pulled all my crops up on Jan 2 2012 to let the garden rest over the winter. I added compost and covered the 4 x 4 boxes with heavy duty weed cloth during the winter. In Feb I took the weed cloth off and replaced it with plastic to help warm the ground. I added more compost in the spring before planting.
I followed the instructions per the ANSFG book and it worked very well. I covered the boxes I had crops in with a blanket when it got very cold.
It was a very good experience for my first time fall and winter gardening

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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  dano on 8/21/2012, 12:09 pm

I'm in Missouri, which is zone 6 by most maps I look at. (It felt more like zone 9 this summer.) I expect to be able to grow fall crops into November.

After the last two winters, I've found that my boxes were used by cats. I'd like to stop that. It also seemed like the soil broke down a lot during that time. I do not have a lot of material for composting, so I do not have a surplus to throw at it. I'm also expanding, so any extra compost will go for that.

Thanks for all the ideas. I was contemplating covering the boxes with plywood, but that seems like overkill. I may try covering some boxes with plastic and try clover in some others. Clear or black plastic? What thickness? Are clover seeds hard to find?

Thanks again!


Last edited by dano on 8/21/2012, 12:34 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Wintering Boxes

Post  camprn on 8/21/2012, 12:28 pm

I may cover some of my bed this coming winter with the plastic that comes covering my wood pellets. It's kind of beige. I have a few movable boxes I may cover with wood.

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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