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Lettuce experiment with cold frames

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Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 9/7/2011, 7:06 am

Greetings to the adventurous gardeners,

How about we experiment with cold frames and hoop houses to extend our growing season. Set up your hoop house or cold frame, plant lettuce and something else then record the date of your first frost, if you got snow, your zone and how long the system lasted. Report back to the group with this interesting information and anything else you learned. Happy fall or winter gardening.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 9/7/2011, 8:46 am

Great idea! You know I'm in for this one.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  quiltbea on 9/7/2011, 11:42 am

I'm planning on putting my new cold frame to good use with lettuce and maybe another cold crop, like mizuna or claytonia. I'll be happy to join the group with reports in my cold and wintery Zone 5a.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  littlesapphire on 9/7/2011, 1:27 pm

Oh how exciting! As it turns out, I just set up the box part (without the lid) of my cold frame yesterday. I planted some beets, radishes, and a cold hardy romaine lettuce in it. I plan on planting a few more things in it before the cold hits!

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  TN_GARDENER on 9/8/2011, 7:02 am

Sounds like a plan.

My stuff has sprouted. Hopefully we won't have a hard freeze before they are ready to harvest, but if the do, I'm sure I'll figure something out (already have plans to build some sort of cold frame).

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Squat_Johnson on 9/9/2011, 11:57 pm

I planted a 3x4 area the day before you posted this subject. I noticed today that some lettuce was sprouted already. I have a couple each lettuce, kale, carrots. Also some arugula and I left one empty for some radishes.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  squaredeal on 9/17/2011, 1:11 pm

The Christmas Tree Shop has cedar cold frames, 55" x 25" x 18" with 2 polycarbonate panels and adjustable hinges for $50. It was in their September 14-25th flyer. I don't know if any assembly is required. The CTS is a chain of stores, so if you have one in your area, you might want to check it out.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 10/7/2011, 7:12 am

Garden update,

I had an old fence garden bed fall apart so I replaced it with an in place cold frame. I built my raised bed 10 inches high and put slants on the side walls. I was smart and built it to fit some old windows I had, only I grabbed the smaller one instead of the larger one. Opps! The newly planted lettuce does not seem to mind, as a bonus my paths are now larger. I also planted carrots. I am starting to see sprouts. They will not make a salad any time soon, but they are trying. Oh and the most important detail about the new cold frame bed I painted it a bright, cheerful blue. Happy Fall gardening.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  quiltbea on 10/7/2011, 10:56 am

I wasn't able to get mine started due to health issues, but will be following this thread to see how it works out for others so I can do this next year. Sounds like at least one has made a good start with seeing sprouts. Congrats!

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  stripesmom on 10/8/2011, 10:20 am

I did start this awhile back. I recorded the date I planted the seeds, but I don't have that notebook with me at the moment. I have varied sizes of hoops. One box the hoops are closer to the ground, the other two the hoops are higher. I plan on just using 2 of my boxes though. In these, I have a variety of lettuce, radishes and spinach planted. I over planted every thing so I can thin and use it as I want. My tomatoes are in these boxes and for now, they are still producing.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  quiltbea on 10/8/2011, 10:58 am

stripes......and if you keep the toms in the hoop house, you might have a full salad every day right from the garden. Tomatoes (indeters) produce as long as its warm enough and the hoop house will help. I can't wait to see pics of your lettuce, spinach and radishes as the weeks continue. Happy gardening!

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  stripesmom on 10/8/2011, 11:33 am

quiltbea, the tom's are so tall, I don't know how to cover them well enough to save them. I have all kinds of sheets to use for frost and plastic for my hoops, but I can't secure it well enough over the tom's to keep them warm. I did plant one tomato plant in a small pot and will bring that in when we get a hard freeze.

Here's a few pictures so far- bragging a little on my first picture, my haul from the tomatoes this morning. The bigger ones are kind of puny and took a heck of a hit with the warm weather this past summer. Oh, there's two yellow peppers too.



Here's a few squares with lettuce-



Here's the radishes, again, I over planted, but will keep thinning it as I go-



The spinach, I have several squares of these. I did start planting them with 4 to a box in the spring and realized, I pick it when it's fairly young, so a square can support many more plants for my use.



Here's the whole garden. Kind of bedraggled now as summer was so hard on it, but still doing well considering I'm in Iowa-


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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  quiltbea on 10/8/2011, 2:21 pm

To protect the toms, how about putting in 4 stakes around the plant and then wrapping plastic, or a couple layers of heavier winter barrier cloth, around the stakes and clipping it shut on the top where you can open it during really sunny days to let out the excess heat??????

Your garden is lookin' good. Love the fall crops. They sure look like they are doing well so far. Good luck.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  stripesmom on 10/8/2011, 5:17 pm

Since the boxes are on the patio, it would be kind of hard to put the stakes anywhere but inside of the boxes. With the wind as blustery as it can be, I don't think it would be solid enough. The back of the boxes are next to a slope that would also make it difficult to put in stakes that would be long enough. They would have to be eight feet high at least. I have to do it by myself as my husband is not into this and would be happy if I never mentioned it again. He likes the produce, just not the gardening part. Or talking about it, seems I have done more than enough of that too, lol.

I have picked all the small tomatoes off to try to force the big tomatoes to ripen. I may get most of them off before the hard freeze happens. The cherry tomato has been such a good producer. I only planted one and wish I'd put one in a pot to bring in for the winter.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  janezee on 10/8/2011, 7:20 pm

@Patty from Yorktown wrote:Greetings to the adventurous gardeners,

How about we experiment with cold frames and hoop houses to extend our growing season. Set up your hoop house or cold frame, plant lettuce and something else then record the date of your first frost, if you got snow, your zone and how long the system lasted. Report back to the group with this interesting information and anything else you learned. Happy fall or winter gardening.

Patty from Yorktown

I'm so excited about this one. I just bought my 100' roll of 1/2" black pipe and made 2 hoop houses last week to keep the damp off my tomatoes but the blight is getting them anyway. :(

But in the next bed, I just planted winter crops a few weeks ago, and will be covering them when it gets cooler. It's a balmy 62* right now, but it's been in the 50's daily, 40's nightly.

Completely off topic, I just came home to see the resident eagles and 3 of their buddies riding the currents above my garden. It's a rare sight, and an awesome one against a clear blue sky!
Still keeping my hat on......

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  stripesmom on 10/18/2011, 5:25 pm

It's going to dip down past 32 tonight and the next few nights. I put the plastic over my hoops today and figured out how to cover the tom's, with sheets though. What a work out!

I need to figure out how to heat my hoops. I was going to use Christmas lights, but I can't find any that aren't LED. I can't afford to spend much, so I'm hoping a garage sale might have some old lights this weekend.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  boffer on 10/18/2011, 5:41 pm

If you have your cool crops covered, they will be OK without supplemental heat. Warm crops wither real fast when it gets cold.

A single incandescent light bulb will provide a lot of heat. The old 'trouble lights' work good. So will an old desk or table lamp.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  stripesmom on 10/18/2011, 5:53 pm

Ty Boffer. I have mostly lettuce, beets, radishes, onions, chard and spinach that I want to try to keep going as long as possible. I did leave a couple of pepper plants in my 4x4, but I don't really care if they last very long, they only have a few peppers on them now. I have plenty of desk lamps, so if it gets where it's going down really low, guess I'll use those.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  quiltbea on 10/18/2011, 6:32 pm

Swiss chard improves in taste after a few light freezes so you won't have to worry about those until a hard freeze arrives. You can even leave some in the plot and it will re-sprout in the spring even here in Maine.

I wouldn't think LED lights would give any heat. Aren't they popular because they DON'T give off heat?

Just covering plants with a few layers of sheets, towels or blankets will help a lot for awhile.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  stripesmom on 10/18/2011, 10:57 pm

Thank you Quilt Bea, I have never eaten Swiss chard before, so raising and eating it this year, has been interesting. At the tender age of 54, I'm learning to eat my vegetables-not just potatoes, corn and peas. I was looking at the lights at Walmart and they are all LED this year and no, they give off no heat at all. I had them in my hands and couldn't detect any thing.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Squat_Johnson on 11/6/2011, 8:48 am

We have had 4 or 5 frosts so far. All of my warm weather plants are done. I have picked the remainder of green beans, and will make dilly beans this pm.

However, for winter... I have been double covering with agribon and plastic. I have Kale, Spinach and radishes in this box. We are loving the spinach. Made Kale chips the other night. Very good.


Lettuce, carrots, more spinach and kale.


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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  quiltbea on 11/6/2011, 10:48 am

SJohnson, I just love seeing your efforts rewarded. Your winter garden is looking just fine. You are lucky. I wish I had been able to get mine going this fall but health probs changed those plans. Hoping to be on board next fall with winter greens.

Enjoy your fresh food.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  stripesmom on 11/7/2011, 8:18 am

Hey SJ, how is the agribon working for you? I've considered it and am on the fence about using it. Thanks~

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Luci Dawson on 11/7/2011, 1:25 pm

@ Squat_Johnson: A couple of questions...

1) How do you attach the plastic to your hoops?
2) Love the 4x4 base on your hoops...do you disassemble it when you no longer need the protection?

This is, by far, the most incredible group of people who so freely share their knowledge. I'm LOVING it!!!

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Squat_Johnson on 11/7/2011, 3:47 pm

@stripesmom
Like the Agribon. I used it in another bed to keep moths from Broccoli. Works great. I need to attach it better, there were some gaps that the moths got through. For this use, it seems to be very good. It is another layer, kinda like a t-shirt under your flannel jacket.

@Luci Dawson 1)
Two ways, not sure which is better. First frame is made of 1x2 wood. I tucked the plastic under, and stapled on the inside.

Second frame is all PVC. It's lighter, so have to weigh it down more. I used zip ties. I wrap the plastic under the bottom part and then around the corner piece. Then tie the corners with zip ties.

@Luci Dawson 2)
No, I store them in the barn loft. They could be disassembled though. I glued the corners of the PVC. If you held them with a small screw instead, they could come apart.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

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