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Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

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Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  boffer on 3/17/2010, 11:42 pm

Modified SFG bed vs. cold frame

(this post is about the use of cold frames in the springtime-not autumn)

Cold frames can be a great way to get a head start on spring planting and for hardening off plants. What people rarely talk about however, is if you stick it where the sun don't shine, they don't work very well. I had a thermometer in my cold frame until it broke; I haven't replaced it. If I want to know what it's like inside the cold frame, I get in my car. If it's 20 degrees F, with snow on the ground, and the sun is shining, it can get quite warm in the car. If it's a steady 40 degrees F with clouds and rain for days on end, it's quite chilly. Occasionally, we get a February where we don't see the sun for the entire month. People start jumping off bridges and tall buildings because it's so depressing. And cold frames become next to worthless.





Every year I get more of my beds off the ground onto tabletops. This year it was time to start getting my cold frames off the ground. I had a modified TT bed that I used for an experiment last year, that I decided to use.





It's 4x6 with a plastic cover similar to what Mel describes. But I insulated the box (sorry no pics of this). I put 1 inch pink foam on the bottom, then I covered the bottom and sides with that 1/4 inch bubble wrap that's sandwiched between aluminum foil. I bought a soil heating cable from my local hardware/nursery to fit the box. It has a built-in non-adjustable thermostat set for 70 degrees F. The cable gets taped to the bottom, and the thermostat is placed in the middle of the soil. I monitor a thermometer in the soil. This year in February, I had 4 nights that got to 24 degrees. The coldest the soil got was 58 degrees. I used a watt/hr meter to measure the power consumption. On average, the soil heater uses a little over 1 KW per day. For me, that's about 11 cents a day.

I planted the same seeds in the cold frame and modified SFG box on the same day. Lettuce, rads, spinach and carrots. We've had above average sunshine this year, and there is still a good size difference.










In the SFG bed, I also planted a bunch of misc. stuff: White onions, BS, brocolli, luffa, cabbage...... The way the stuff is growing, I'm thinking next year of doing some of my indoor seeding in this box. That way I won't have to harden off and transplant stuff. After I harvest the veggies in the cold frame, it's history!


Carrots in 25 days





White onions
(dang, I should have weeded before I took pics!)





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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  titans01 on 3/18/2010, 1:34 pm

Way cool! On the TT cover is it fastened to both sides and the only access is on the ends?

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  boffer on 3/18/2010, 4:40 pm

It was an 'experiment' this year so I didn't put much effort into convenience. I just used scraps to secure the plastic to the box all the way around. To the right, you can just see the yellow drill I use to get into the thing right now. The end you can't see has a six inch square hole to peek inside. (I cut the plastic too short!) You can see the blanket on the ground behind the bed that I use to cover up the hole.

Maybe someone has a convenient way to set up access. The bed is 6 feet long, at this stage it's easy enough to reach the middle. Eventually I'll take the plastic off for the summer

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  camprn on 3/7/2011, 7:48 pm

Bump

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  middlemamma on 3/7/2011, 8:12 pm

Great timing camp.... Smile

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  camprn on 3/7/2011, 8:21 pm

@middlemamma wrote:Great timing camp.... Smile
Wink

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  boffer on 3/16/2011, 2:10 pm

I'll bump again cause miinva asked about it in another thread. Note: This thread was started at this time last year. This is a March, 2011 update.

I'm done with cold frames. I like a heated sfg box sooo much better. This year has been very overcast and even though I had several days into the low teens after planting, everything survived just fine.


This view was direct seeded on 1/17. Spinach, turnips, and bok choi in the front row. The second and third rows are broccoli. The broccoli got real leggy for a while, then started growing again. I might add lights next year.




This is the other end of the same box. Direct seeded on 2/1. Lettuces and bok choi.




I guess these are my control squares. They are protected from the worst of the rain, but exposed to the temperatures. Direct seeded on 1/17. They hadn't sprouted yet when we had the cold temps.




I was slow to get my second heated box built. These are broccoli and cauliflower sprouted in peat discs on 2/21 and planted into the heated box on 3/11. They are planted 5 to a square. The plan is to leave the center one as is and to transplant the plants in the corners to another box when the weather improves.




This winter's look..







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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 3/16/2011, 3:07 pm

Awesome stuff, boffer!

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  boffer on 3/16/2011, 3:47 pm

Ditch the gallon jugs; plug in your SFG box; sleep better at night!

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/16/2011, 5:29 pm

Hey Boffer, how do you think this heated soil box would work during the summer in our heat challenged climate to grow tomatoes, eggplant and peppers?

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  boffer on 3/17/2011, 10:46 am

I tried tomatoes and peppers in it the year before last. You remember...the hottest summer in a while! So I don't know if it helped or not.

I'll be trying tomatoes again this year. That voice chanting 'greenhouse, greenhouse' is getting louder every year!

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  martha on 3/17/2011, 8:55 pm

In the SFG bed, I also planted a bunch of misc. stuff: White onions, BS

Boffer, I didn't know you had to plant BS (she says with the most innocent facial expression you have ever seen.)

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  miinva on 3/17/2011, 9:22 pm

Thank you, Boffer! What a cool experiment! We're putting in some new beds this year, maybe we'll spring for a couple of soil heaters Smile

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  Old Hippie on 3/18/2011, 10:09 am

@martha wrote:

Boffer, I didn't know you had to plant BS (she says with the most innocent facial expression you have ever seen.)


Good one!

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  LittleGardener on 7/22/2011, 11:51 am

@boffer wrote:Modified SFG bed vs. cold frame

(this post is about the use of cold frames in the springtime-not autumn)

Cold frames can be a great way to get a head start on spring planting and for hardening off plants. What people rarely talk about however, is if you stick it where the sun don't shine, they don't work very well. I had a thermometer in my cold frame until it broke; I haven't replaced it. If I want to know what it's like inside the cold frame, I get in my car. If it's 20 degrees F, with snow on the ground, and the sun is shining, it can get quite warm in the car. If it's a steady 40 degrees F with clouds and rain for days on end, it's quite chilly. Occasionally, we get a February where we don't see the sun for the entire month. People start jumping off bridges and tall buildings because it's so depressing. And cold frames become next to worthless.





Every year I get more of my beds off the ground onto tabletops. This year it was time to start getting my cold frames off the ground. I had a modified TT bed that I used for an experiment last year, that I decided to use.





It's 4x6 with a plastic cover similar to what Mel describes. But I insulated the box (sorry no pics of this). I put 1 inch pink foam on the bottom, then I covered the bottom and sides with that 1/4 inch bubble wrap that's sandwiched between aluminum foil. I bought a soil heating cable from my local hardware/nursery to fit the box. It has a built-in non-adjustable thermostat set for 70 degrees F. The cable gets taped to the bottom, and the thermostat is placed in the middle of the soil. I monitor a thermometer in the soil. This year in February, I had 4 nights that got to 24 degrees. The coldest the soil got was 58 degrees. I used a watt/hr meter to measure the power consumption. On average, the soil heater uses a little over 1 KW per day. For me, that's about 11 cents a day.

I planted the same seeds in the cold frame and modified SFG box on the same day. Lettuce, rads, spinach and carrots. We've had above average sunshine this year, and there is still a good size difference.










In the SFG bed, I also planted a bunch of misc. stuff: White onions, BS, brocolli, luffa, cabbage...... The way the stuff is growing, I'm thinking next year of doing some of my indoor seeding in this box. That way I won't have to harden off and transplant stuff. After I harvest the veggies in the cold frame, it's history!


Carrots in 25 days





White onions
(dang, I should have weeded before I took pics!)






This is just AWESOME! - Thanks for sharing Smile
as always, I have lots Very Happy of questions:

1. WHAT did you use for the BOTTOM? of these "Heated T.T. gardens"
(preventing buckling/caving)

2. How do you keep the wildlife such as DEER (etc) out?

3. Could a person compromise by starting something similar on a DECK?

4. About how much would it cost to build one of your "Heated T.T. gardens"?

5. About how much would it cost to heat one, annually?

Thank you for your generous Smile help

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  boffer on 7/22/2011, 12:51 pm

@LittleGardener wrote:
This is just AWESOME! - Thanks for sharing Smile
as always, I have lots Very Happy of questions:

1. WHAT did you use for the BOTTOM? of these "Heated T.T. gardens"
(preventing buckling/caving)

Two other threads that are applicable here:

Building table tops.
Building heated hoop houses.

2. How do you keep the wildlife such as DEER (etc) out?

After fighting the deer for six years with temporary fencing and silly ideas, I finally broke down this year and put up 6 foot fencing. I'm a slow learner!

3. Could a person compromise by starting something similar on a DECK?

Sure

4. About how much would it cost to build one of your "Heated T.T. gardens"?

They're just sfg boxes, so whatever your preferences for boxes are. The soil heating cable with thermostat is a little over $3/sf.


5. About how much would it cost to heat one, annually?

I have run a watt meter on them and it costs ~12¢ a day per box.



I'm using this H3 as a germination bed. There's 75 broccoli seeds planted, 5 per square. I'll transplant 4 of them. I've tried the indoor germination thing a couple years; I just don't have the nurturing gene that's required. The box was sitting there empty; might as well use it.



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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  MasonGarden on 7/22/2011, 1:05 pm

Boffer - Love your TT's! Did you buy the steel table frames that are pictured or did you make them? I know you put the components together yourself, but I am wondering about the frames. I don't have the skills or the tools to make something like that, so I am hoping they can be purchased somewhere. Thanks!

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  boffer on 7/22/2011, 5:38 pm

Sorry, I built all my tables from scrap steel. That's why none of them are the same size!

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  MasonGarden on 7/22/2011, 5:42 pm

Wow, you ARE a handy, talented dude!! way to go

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  AprilakaCCIL on 7/22/2011, 6:01 pm

Very ((COOL)) Thanx 4 sharing.

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

Post  LittleGardener on 7/26/2011, 1:01 am

Happily I found this thread again, as I was sorta stumped on
my next Garden-project: 1. how to securely support the weight of Raised-beds,
while at the same time: 2. keep the Deck-planks functional.

Not having "scrap-steel" handily available, I was searching on Ixquick, when
I remembered a rusty, old metal Shelf that maybe we could adapt... ?

What's an H3 ? - Edit: I just found out it's a "Heated hoop house"

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Re: Modified TT SFG vs. Cold Frame

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