Coldframes & Hoop Houses - Extending the Growing Season ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coldframes & Hoop Houses - Extending the Growing Season

I nearly cried when reading that there is a possibility of snow later this week here in the Hudson Valley. I am just not ready for that in any way. Well, except maybe one way... We spent Saturday afternoon transplanting all our fall greens and herbs into the mini hoop house that we constructed out of an old apple crate (purchased from the Apple Bin, no less!) last spring.

Mini hoop house on our back deck by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

Now all's we have to do is cover it with plastic and let the bad weather come (though I hope to God that it will wait until at least November if not December or even, dare I say it, January?)

Parsley just transplanted to the mini hoop house on our back deck by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

As autumn deepens, I find myself clinging desperately to the last signs of summer. Although we pulled out most of our plants, we left the two cherry tomatoes standing in the hopes that a few more of the ruby beauties will have a chance to ripen before the first frost strikes. I've also been seized with an almost pathological urge to spend every waking moment out of doors while the going is still good (which has led to some lovely hikes and outings recently.) And I find myself fantasizing about cold frames, those wonderful, inexpensive ways to preserve your growing season just a little bit longer...

Cold Frame - photo courtesy of Terrim, on Flickr - thanks, Terri!

I personally love the idea of reusing an old window - to prevent waste, save materials and because I think they look charming.

Despite my intense appreciation of them, I am far from an expert on cold frames (or hoop houses.) So rather than pretend to know more than I do, I thought I'd share with you all some good resources for how to construct and use cold frames. So without further ado, here's a very thorough video from This Old House about how to build your own (unfortunately, Blogger is not playing nicely with Brightcove's embedding options, sigh.)

And here are a few links to check out:
You might also like these posts from yours truly:
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Ruth said...

heh, I'm a county or few north of you, and I'm surprised we've NOT had snow yet....

Anna Solomon said...

Great post! How do you cover the hoop house in such a way that you can get in to water/clip, etc? If I can construct such a thing over the large pot that my herbs are now in, would that work? I've also heard about bringing them in and putting the in our basement over the winter - though it runs hot.

Eve Fox said...

Thanks, Ann-er! as I said, I'm no expert and I admit that our hoophouse covering is kinda sloppy-looking - heavy clear plastic held together with duct tape... We can take it off for the day to water and let in sunlight and then put it back on at night. But it's not glamorous. That is why if you have space in your yard, a coldframe is probably a more elegant solution since you can hinge the top and then just prop it open during the day. Also, depending on how large a pot your herbs are in, you could go the old-fashioned route and use a cloche - those gorgeous glass bell shaped thingys that you just pop on top over night. I don't know if the basement would work - you'll need sunlight if you want them to keep growing over the winter but a sunny windowsill would do the trick. I'm moving all our herbs (which are in smaller pots) in tomorrow night before Thursday's chance of snow :( Hope that helps some.

John Decker said...

This is a great article. I love having plants around my house but mostly for decoration and for the love of flowers. My husband used to have a garden and he grew a lot of vegetables. He has gotten older so he does not have the time to take care of it and the weather has also destroyed most of the plants. I have been looking for traditional plants to put around my new cast aluminum mailbox. I would even like to have vines grow and wrap around the base. Any suggestions?