Cold Frames

This weekend we took the last of the covers off the tomato plants and collected some beautiful red tomatoes right from the vine.  Its been a fairly typical season in that we always carry through tomatoes to the last few days of October.  Sitting on open racks that allow for good air circulation, these tomatoes will keep until the new year in our unheated garage.  Nothing like bright red tomatoes from your own garden in December, especially when compared to the pseudo tomatoes the grocery store sells.

After harvesting the last of the tomatoes my wife laid our protective blankets over a beautiful row of young cabbage while I brought in firewood.  The orange and yellow leaves festooned on all our trees are making this one of the most splendid seasons of fall color I can remember. 

After doing a little clean up we checked on our recently planted garlic.  There they were, brand new bright green shoots sticking their heads up out of the soil waving at the sun.  Garlic loves cool weather and will be about the first thing to begin growing in the spring.  Often times you can see them beginning to take off as early as late February.

After checking on the garlic we raised the lid to our cold frame and were amazed at the growth taking place inside.  You could almost picture the plants gathered around a miniature wood stove, staying warm and growing to beat the band!  The new lettuce is nearly lifting the roof off the cold frame, the newly planted spinach is big and dark green beautiful, and the young cabbage is growing nicely.  At some point it will get cold enough the plants will stop growing, but the cold wont kill them and we will harvest fresh greens virtually all winter long from this little space in the garden.  Mixed with the carrots we cover with straw (just not yet – still too warm out), we will be able to have fresh garden veggies right up until we can plant new crops in the spring.  There are many cold frame designs and you can pick whatever size and style suits you, but whatever you choose, it is well worth looking into.

A short update on bees.  All hives were checked to see if they still contain pollen supplements.  Four of the six hives do and two hives that had used up everything I had placed inside received some additional supplements.  I will soon be taking some classes from Master Beekeeper Instructor Steve Harris and Natural Beekeeping instructor Ross Conrad.  I hope to learn a little more about what can be done to get our bees through the winter.

Have a great week everyone!

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