Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saved: One Coldframe/Watermelon grower

The cold frame I built from scrap lumber last spring saw a lot of use.  I used it as a cold frame all spring.  Then in the summer, I moved it to the watermelon bed and planted melons in it.  This was the first year I ever got edible melons!  In the fall I moved it on top of the lettuce bed to allow me to harvest lettuce well into winter.  Chicago winters are hard though, and when I tried to move the frame to the patio last week I ran into some.....issues.  It fell apart and stabbed me in anger with a rusty staple.  Frames don't apparently like to be dropped over fences.   Luckily I'm not easily diverted from a mission. {*BTW:  Please ignore the horrible rotting fence.  This year we are going to fix it...OK I know I said that last year, but this year I mean it!}

 After raiding the workshop for a few screws and a staple gun, I was off to the races.  Screwing it back into something resembling a structure only took a few moments.  Primarily because I was lazy and did not pre-drill.   I used a lot of the old nail holes.  It seemed to work OK.  Definitely wobbles a bit more than last year though.  Heh.

The next step took me about 40 minutes.  I cut slabs of plastic from the ice rink remnants and stapled them to the frame.  The reason this took so long was that the wind was gusting pretty good and stapling large slabs of plastic in 30 knots of breeze is a bit of work.  If I didn't staple fast enough, a gust would catch the plastic and rip it thru the staples.  Still, it was very easy a garden projects go.  Instead of plastic for the front of it, I used some old row cover.  I did this because I wanted the frame to breathe more than last year.  That side came out so well I may just do the whole thing in row cover next year.  {The giant blob of dirty plastic is thankfully now gone.  My yard was starting to look like it was calling out to junkyard dogs for awhile there.}

Here is the end product.  Stunning patio art it is not, but what it is, is free and an extremely useful place to put plants to harden them off and get them out of the master bedroom.  I put a light bulb in there to deal with the 30 degree nights.  I also have a thermostat in there so that I can closely monitor temperatures on sunny days.  It heats up very fast,  easily hitting sixty degrees on a cold sunny day.  {Yes, that is a big patch of mud right off the patio.  I'm not going to seed it because this patio, along with the fence is history this year!  OK I know I said that last year too, this year is the year!

 The celery, amaranth, leeks and a few potted up chard have been in there all of last week and have really greened up.  Its amazing how much greener plants get in frames like this when compared to growth lights.  

I had the tomato babies in there yesterday and today for a field trip.  It was unseasonably warm and breezy so I thought I'd give their stems a little exercise.  Big storms are getting ready to roll through now, so I'll be bringing them back in for the night.  I don't want to risk any broken stems or hail.  Now when they are looking so good!

No comments: