Monday, March 12, 2012

Homemade Garden Supplies

I faithfully read my various gardening magazines, and am always impressed by these gardeners who have state-of-the-art equipment: I salivate over their cold frames, row covers, cloches, and greenhouses. I plot and scheme about the gardening I could do with such equipment. Then I look at the prices in the catalog-- yikes! To be honest, a significant motivator in my backyard farming endeavors is the simple fact that I really, really hate to spend money. However, I can't live with the idea that there are tools out there that would make my gardens healthier and more productive, and I'm not using them. The solution to this daunting conundrum is obvious: I should just figure out a way to make these things myself.

Through various construction projects, we had amassed a number of old glass windows in our garage, as well as some odd bits of lumber. To make a cold frame, I laid out one of the glass windows and cut some spare two-by-six boards to make a box the exact size of the window frame. I placed the box on the south side of the house right up against the foundation and lined the bottom with black plastic. I filled the box with composted manure, planted seeds, and topped the box with the window. Instant greenhouse. Last year, I was able to grow early and late rounds of spinach and various salad greens due to my little invention... yum.

Though I haven't fully experimented with these yet, it seems that row covers would be fairly easy to construct from spare pex piping by simply cutting even lengths of pipe and arching them over the seedlings, pushing each end firmly into the soil. Rather than look in the gardening catalogs for the actual cloth cover, look on the sale table at your local fabric store. Your cloth should be light colored and breathable-- a light thin cotton is perfect. And much cheaper. Affix to the frame by threading a light-gauge wire (like a craft wire) around the pex at the end of the rows and through the fabric, and twisting closed.

A simple-- although not altogether attractive-- cloche-replicate can be as simple as a milk or juice jug with the bottom cut out and the top off. Although one may not fancy one's garden looking like Christo discovered the redemption center, the results are good. Just don't forget to take them off once the seedlings establish.

Today, I again filled the cold frame with composted manure and sowed seeds for spinach and kale-- we can look forward to delectable baby greens in about forty days. In the meantime, I discovered another full bucket of maple sap which is boiling and bubbling in the summer kitchen right now-- am beginning to feel like one of Macbeth's witches.

The crocuses are out!

No comments:

Post a Comment