Our weather has been unique this year, we had a mild winter that seemed to get started late and once it did, the weather stayed cold a few months longer than normal. There were also a few hot and cold surprises that were very tricky to navigate. We were hardening off plants during 55 degree days and then bringing them back in under stormy 30 degree surprises. Ultimately, I lost many plants during a late May ice storm because I did not have them protected, but I did not get discouraged, and I did not give up. Today, I have a thriving, plentiful garden. My best EVER and I want to share a few tricks I learned along the way that can help you too. Even if Mother Nature is not cooperating.
This week, I am going to share a few of my best "lessons learned" this year so far: raised beds and cold frames. The images below depict my raised garden beds and three plastic and wood cold frame covers. These are new to our homestead, but seeing is believing. Used together, the raised garden beds and cold frame covers kept everything underneath and inside of them alive while everything else froze and died. If you look closely, you can see that the raised beds in the foreground have tall, healthy plants inside while everything beyond the first few rows are empty or new re-plants.
These are the covers, put aside after temperatures got too hot. My crafty hubby used leftover lumber from the garden beds, 4 mil plastic, and door hinges to make the cold frame covers.
Together, they really DO keep soil temperature a few degrees warmer at the critical root zone during a short term freeze (a matter of hours or overnight, nightly). I was able to start both warm season seedlings and cool season seeds inside these covered beds in February, which is earlier than I can start them going outside in a normal year, so that gave me a good jump on things too. I am sure that adding a good mulch next winter will allow me to start even sooner.