Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Winter Gardening

Sam and I decided we were having so much fun gardening that we didn't want to stop just because it's winter. So I studied out situation, our tight budget, our available resources, and our intent and came to the conclusion that it was worth a try. Sam is still cutting mint and lemon balm and I'm still harvesting large leaves of lettuce and handfuls of peas, and the broccoli--which I planted late--is just now beginning to put out heads. If this is a failed experiment, then at least it will a low cost fail.

Today I got up and wrote (for three hours), went to town, stopped at the thrift store and bought myself some new clothes (found a gorgeous outfit to wear to my mother-in-law's for Thanksgiving, so at least I have that to look forward to and, no, you didn't miss the subtext of that statement), stopped at the pharmacy and picked up some more cold and flu stuff (on the mend, but still suffering the symptoms), at the grocery store for powdered milk for homemade hot chocolate (I've been told I rock, by the way), and at the hardware store for three rolls of plastic.

Came home, took the cold medicine, mixed up the homemade hot chocolate mix (which is way better than the store bought stuff), and went out to the garden to see what I could do with our available resources, some duct tape, rolls of plastic, empty milk jugs, rocks, and rolls of plastic.

First I took apart the tomato cages the boys put together for me last spring and walked around on them a bit to flatten them out. I then reshaped them into tunnels and fit them around the plants we want to save.

While I was doing this, Sam gathered the empty milk jugs and filled them with warm water and carried them, two and three at a time, out to the garden. After I shaped the wire frames into long tunnels, I fit them in around the hills of plants we decided were feasible to save. Then I cut sheets of plastic and fit them around the tunnels. We set our jugs of water in the center of each cage and used the rocks to close off the entrances. Here is Sam with his half-done cold frame. The chain link eyesore in the background is the frame for my near-future "sustainable architecture" greenhouse.

Here is the inside of Sam's cold frame. He loved how it looked like a small greenhouse--so much so that he insisted on taking the picture. We were both struck by how quickly it warmed up inside these frames.

Here are the satisfying end results:

Oh, and here is the gratuitous dog shot. Solomon is working with plastic too--as in retrieving Oscar's plastic Frisbee.

All in all, it was about three hours of work and well worth the time spent. Now all that's left to do is lift the flaps on warmer days and add or detract jugs of water as temperatures directs. I figure the worst thing that will happen is that we're out the cost of some rolls of plastic. The best result would be fresh lettuce and broccoli in January, fresh mint and lemon balm tea, and two better educated gardeners.


jeanie said...

Amazingly resourceful. Here is to a happy harvest for you (seeing as I can't send you the surplus of sunshine in our garden ATM)