Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Lovely Winter Garden

Gardening is not just reserved for summer. I have a winter garden producing fresh greens right now, and it is something that you can do, too.

In the fall, I researched cold frame gardening, and I felt confident that we could turn one of our raised beds into a lettuce-producing factory year-round.

I made out a honey-do list and batted my eyes at my husband. The next thing you know, he got right to work. Oh, how I love that man!

We chose one of our raised beds that already had some mature kale plants and green onions growing in it. We also planted some salad greens and cilantro seedlings. All fair well in cold weather.

My husband first took 10 one-foot rebar pieces and placed them inside each of the four corners of the raised bed, spacing them 2 feet apart along both sides of the bed. Next, he measured and cut five pieces of 1/2 inch pvc piping, each 8 feet long. He then attached the piping from the rebar pieces directly across the top of the bed to another piece of rebar.

Next came the fun part. He, with the help of his lovely assistant, measured enough heavy plastic to cover the bed. This was about a 10' x 14' piece of 6-mil. plastic for the 4’ x 8’ bed. After covering the bed with the plastic, he used heavy screws and bungee cords to attach the plastic to the frame of the raised bed.

It's important to have a way to vent your cold frame so that the plants don't overheat. Even on cold days, the sun's rays can beam down and make the temperature inside the cold frame too hot if it's not vented properly. During the day, I open the sides and use heavy clips to keep them open, and then I close them back at night.

And there you have it: Lots of salad greens, kale, green onions, and cilantro to feed our family this winter. All for about $30!

So grab yourself a tall glass of sweet iced tea and come on over. It's summer all winter long at our house!

— Shawn Neal


  1. This is a great article, and now I can't WAIT to try this - how simple! Shawn is a true "Renaissance Woman" with a knack for trying things and telling about her forays into a more wholesome, natural way to live and eat.
    Bravo, Shawn! :) ~ Kathy B.

  2. Hi Shawn! My mom (Leigh Ann King) sent me a link to your blog. She knows my love for all things gardening, blogging, and cilantro---yummm! Our yard is too small for a winter garden right now, but I'm going to store this info away for the future! :)

    Megan Birke

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Megan! It's probably too late for a winter garden this year, but it's never too early to be planning for your summer garden. No yard is too small! We've grown pumpkins, blueberries, and lavender in our landscaping when our backyard space was too small. Raised beds and container gardening are also a great way to maximize produce in a small amount of space. If you don't already have it, a wonderful resource for your library would be Mel Bartholomew's book, "Square Foot Gardening." Best wishes and lots of healthy eating to you and your beautiful family!

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