Cold Frames

by Eleanor Kane on March 28th, 2012

Our seedlings are growing up so fast!  We're excited and anxious to transplant them to the garden but first we needed to harden them off.  Their cozy days of 70 degrees and daily watering in the greenhouse are over as we reduce the amount of water they get each day and expose them to more extreme temperatures.  This helps them adapt when they are transplanted.

Just like our chicken tractors, we built our cold frames out of PVC.  What I like best about this design is that if we have a cold snap once the plants are in the garden, we can simply place the cold frame over the garden bed to protect our plants from frost.  This will be especially helpful in the fall to extend our growing season as the days start getting colder. 

We use soil blocks for our seedlings and we built the cold frames to hold nine of the trays that Johnny's makes for them.  Our vegetable production is pretty small this year so we're not too worried about running out of space.

We currently have Swiss Chard, Winterbor and Red Russian Kale, Bok Choy and Butterhead Lettuce in the cold frames.  We'll transplant these in the next few days and in a week or two, we'll start hardening off the onions, shallots, scallions and leeks.  Stay tuned for our first harvest! 
You can also see our Chicken Defense System, as I like to call it.  The hens, who spend their days running around the barnyard, want nothing more than free access to the greenhouse and everything inside of it.  Not only is it nice and warm in there, it's also full of their favorite foods: delicious, young seedlings.  As much as we love our hens, we prefer that they stick to grass, bugs and the table scraps we give them.  We'll have to put another fence around the vegetables once we're ready to start transplanting.  I certainly don't want to go out to the garden one day and find the hens busy eating my dinner.

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