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Lettuce experiment with cold frames

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 11/16/2011, 9:59 pm

Hi,

Sorry that I have not reported back in as promised, but we have not had a frost yet. We are over due. A couple of weeks ago it got rather cold, but no frost. Well tomorrow we have frost warnings, so I will put my window over my cold frame. I have been very happy about my box with the sloped sides. It seems to be working as designed. My only problem has been that my lettuce has grown taller than I thought. I just added a quick 2x4 "top hat." I will need to go and paint it and put it one level lower, so everything sits flat. When my garden expands in a few years, I hope to add more with this system. It meets my needs well. Hope I get fresh lettuce for Christmas.

Patty in Yorktown

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  staf74 on 11/17/2011, 11:14 am

NO FROST YET affraid

I'm a good bit further south than you and had about 8 !!!

Clearly, me being closer to the mountains and perhaps mild coastal breezes nearer you is the difference.

Me too on the xmas lettuce !!!

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Harvest in December!

Post  cyclonegardener on 12/7/2011, 9:28 pm

I'm new to this forum and just started square foot gardening this year. I built a cold frame and have radishes, turnips, lettuce, carrots and spinach. I am also experimenting with peas. I planted them in early September as an afterthought, just to see how they would do. I have a soil thermometer and also a wireless thermometer. It got to 11 degrees outside and the cold frame got to 31 degrees. The soil temperature is about 40 degrees. I harvested lettuce today, carrots and a radish. The lettuce was the best color I've seen this season. The carrots and radish were ones I planted late (carrots in late August and radishes in late Sept.) and were small, but tasty. I use Mel's mix, with some modifications and I have a compost bin. The peas are doing very good. They flowered and I tried to self pollinate, but so far with no success. We'll see.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 12/7/2011, 11:22 pm

Just fyi, I still have spinach going without covers and I've been down to 30 the past three nights. My daytime highs haven't been north of 40 over the same span...with no sunshine, only overcast and snow flurries. I still have some lettuce and peas, too. Now, tonight should get to 26 and we'll see what happens. Everything is so small from my very late fall start that I don't plan to cover anything. I just plan to see what temps finally zap them.

You can always learn something from the garden.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Kelejan on 12/8/2011, 1:40 am

cyclonegardener Hope to see you here often even though it is coming up winter.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Goosegirl on 12/8/2011, 7:06 am

Sorry to interrupt this thread, but I just had to say I love reading this thread and dreaming through your gardens! It is currently about 15F (was 0F for morning temp a few days ago, so we are in a warming trend!) Garden is definitely done for the year because I got so busy at work in Aug. and Sept. that I didn't get a fall garden planted. I am LOVING seeing pics of the winter stuff still growing and hearing about how all of you are trying to beat the weather with cold frames/top hats/box covers/etc.

Just had to say THANKS for the beautiful dreams! I wish all of you success with fighting the weather!

GG


Last edited by Goosegirl on 12/8/2011, 7:07 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Spelling before 1st full cuppa joe)

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 12/10/2011, 7:46 am

I am reporting in again. We have had some very light frosts but not enough to kill off impatient plants. This is very unusual for us. I have covered my cold frames about 4 times, twice the frames have frosted. The lettuce and carrots are very happy, while the volunteer bean plant has given up the ghost. I also have uncovered peas and they seem to be happy, I hope to pick some pods this weekend. I might make the goal of fresh lettuce for Christmas at this rate.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  walshevak on 12/10/2011, 8:00 am

Hey Patty

I am only about 75 miles from you and we have a good chance. I mostly follow the Hampton Rhodes weather patterns. The forcasts for next week have some lows that will produce frost, but I don't see any really hard freezes in the near future.

I only have plastic on my hoops and garden blanket down low on the plants but so far everything is surviving the light frost we have had. I have some swiss chard, kale, and lettuce at the harvest stage and some collards and spinach that are still too small, but may suvive to give me a headstart on spring. The leftover lettuce seed that I sprinkled along the side of the chard is about 2" tall and I picked some as thinnings yesterday. And go figure, somehow the swiss chard must have reseeded as I found about 7 plants amid the lettuce seedlings. They are in the same bed as the chard left from spring. I also have some carrot and radish seedlings from sprinkled leftover seed. Will be interesting to see if they have enough growth to overwinter and provide an early start in spring.

Kay

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  staf74 on 12/10/2011, 12:57 pm

Patty, Kay et al,

Been lurking in this thread for a while Very Happy . Great posts !!

I'm deffo going to build a cold frame or two for the spring. I love me some season extension. I will be right with you for fresh lettuce at the xmas meal. Supposed to be 25 for tonight here in my neck of the woods but my little set-up can easily tolerate that.

Keep on keeping on !!!

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cold last night

Post  cyclonegardener on 12/10/2011, 1:00 pm

It got down close to zero last night in SE Iowa, but the cold frame, covered with a thermo pane window, blanket and space blanket still was 29 this morning. Will harvest spinach today. The row covers keep the plants from getting too close to touching the window.


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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 12/10/2011, 4:05 pm

Best link I've seen in awhile provided you have a place to store it when not in use...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6bWeYCV53A

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  walshevak on 12/18/2011, 8:06 am

Well just plastic wasn't enough last night. Temps got down to 25 inside the hoop houses and all my plants are frozen this morning. I'll harvest some kale and chard but leave the stalks in place and see if the roots survive for an early spring growth. The collards will start growing again in the spring, at least the ones I had uncovered in my flower beds did last year. The spinach start got big enought for all of them to provide one meal or I can leave them alone and see if I get early spring growth.

There will be no lettuce for Christmas. Sad . But the darn garlic sprouts which are not under plastic don't look any different. I broke off a piece and it wasn't even frozen. The roots are well mulched with straw.

Kay

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  quiltbea on 12/18/2011, 9:37 am

I'd say you've done very well. I hope to join in this endeavor next year with my A-frame and my cold frame. With you being in such a cold zone, like me, getting a couple of extra months out of your garden I find just wonderful. Lucky you.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  stripesmom on 12/18/2011, 7:54 pm

I took the plastic off awhile back. I'm kind of amazed at the lettuce. So far, it has frozen several times and still comes back to life with a little sun. The spinach is small, but seems untouched. The chard, it's still a live in the center, but the leaves did freeze and didn't come back. It's even snowed and gotten down below 20 here. I am just enjoying seeing things still doing their own thing.

I think if the boxes had been on the south side of the house, protected from the wind, they would have done much better.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  cyclonegardener on 12/18/2011, 9:29 pm

stripes mom- Interesting. I found lettuce can survive even 17 degree temperatures.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  plantoid on 12/19/2011, 1:10 am

Our swiss chard survived our last winters six weeks of an average temperature 13 o F ( minus 10 Centigrade ) which also included three or four days of 0 oF ( minus 18 centigrade) to come back again for the second years cropping .

It did die down but soon came back .

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  walshevak on 12/19/2011, 8:40 am

Interesting, maybe I should just harvest what I want for today and leave the bed alone until weather starts warming back up in late Feb. Our temps dont USUALLY get that low. Just some water about once a week.



Kay

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  plantoid on 12/19/2011, 10:39 am

@walshevak wrote:Interesting, maybe I should just harvest what I want for today and leave the bed alone until weather starts warming back up in late Feb. Our temps dont USUALLY get that low. Just some water about once a week.



Kay

Kay ,
Chard tends to develop a very earthy and bitter taste in the second year when & after it turns to seed so you best resowing as needed to keep the plants young.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 3/4/2012, 6:31 pm

Hi,
I did not realize it had been so long since I had reported in on my cold frame experiment. Not only did I get lettuce for Christmas, but my lettuce plants are still growing. We have had a super mild winter, so I have been able to pick a number of small salads all winter long. We have just had a few days that were in the high 70 degrees. It is much too early for that kind of weather. Anyways the lettuce has been happily growing, over the top of the cold frame. Tonight we are expecting cold weather and I need to put the glass back over my cold frame. You can see my problem. I was able to harvest 2 good sized heads of lettuce and a third small head. They tasted great!
All in all I have been very happy with my experiment. The only problem I have had was going out of town for a few weekends when we had freezing weather. I had a friend remove the covers in the morning. It seems odd to be tied to the garden in the middle of winter.

Patty from Yorktown

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  rrsmith60 on 3/4/2012, 6:46 pm

Howdy all,

We've had lettuce and Arugula in our Jewel 1900 cold frame (with extension) all winter. However, I did just eat the last head of lettuce, still have plenty of arugula.

Not bragging, just proving the cold frame lettuce growing idea works. However, it has everything to do with your winter. This last year we had a hard winter and the lettuce was bitten by Christmas. However, this milder winter has provided better. Mind you, in my zone, the greens grow (if any) very slow. So I plan to have a fairly full 3x8 box going into the fall before placing the cold frame on the bed.

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  walshevak on 3/4/2012, 7:15 pm

Just to add to this, the freezing temps I reported earlier didn't stop the chard, spinach or lettuce. I've been eating out of the hoops all winter long. Still have the same chard and the spinach got big enough for cooking as well as salads. Kale is finally about done and collards developed a mold in the centers of several plants so I pulled them and tossed. Lettuce seed I planted first week of Nov is now the main lettuce patch.

Kay

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Re: Lettuce experiment with cold frames

Post  Squat_Johnson on 3/6/2012, 5:26 pm

Update - I am still picking spinach and kale from my two 4 x 4 hoop covers. I put some radishes in to see how they would do, very very slow, but still alive. My lettuce bolted before it got cold, so that was a bit early I think...

Overall, I'm amazed that I have had food growing all winter.

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