Cold Frames, Hoop Tunnels and Greenhouses for Winter Gardening.....In Cold Climates like Canada and Northern US

in gardening •  3 months ago

This past weekend It was actually chilly enough for a jacket in the early evening and morning. This is a good indicator that fall is coming early. I started to build a few more cold frames. My approach this winter, here in Ontario Canada where it can get to -40, is to have one greenhouse with minimal heat, 2 cold frames and 1 mini hoop tunnel. This post will give you some tips and ideas to start thinking about when planting and harvesting this winter in the cooler Zones.

mini hoop tunnel.jpg

There are some vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, leeks and kale that are even sweeter in winter. This is because their starches turn into sugar as a natural form of anti-freeze. It is suggested that you don’t even pick your carrots until you get a couple of frosts.

Placing your cold frames and hoop tunnels against the sunniest walls around your home is the best advice for location so it will get the warmth from the sun, also the ambient heat from the exterior of the house. Depending on your zone this may not be necessary, however, as on the sunniest of days the frame can become too warm in a cold frame. Then it's essential to prop open the top with a small block of wood perhaps to allow cool air to circulate. Here are three excellent examples of cold frames from recycled materials.

Cold frame 2.jpg

cold frame.jpg

Brick-Cold-Frame.jpg

The ultimate best time to plant would be by mid to late August you will have a great harvest by Winter. My successful formula is to have everything planted and established by mid-September. By planting with these dates in mind you may harvests cold hardy crops like parsnips, beets, turnips, leeks and carrots, through the fall and into December.

winter greenhouse.jpg

When selecting the seeds, you may want to consider your zone as some plants do not do well with warmer climates in the winter, for example any temperatures above 20 C is too warm for beets to germinate. They like the cooler weather.

The following are some plants that can overwinter for early spring harvest:

alliacea (garlic, leeks, onions)
herbs (thyme, oregano, sage, chives)
root vegetables (turnips, carrots, parsnips)
greens (spinach, kale)

To harvest in the winter, though, many plants started by seed must reach maturity before the cold weather settles in.

The following are plants for late-fall/winter harvest:

brassicas (broccoli, rapini, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, kohl rabi)
root vegetables (turnips, rutabaga, carrots, beets, radishes, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes)
greens (kale, bok choy, collards, swiss chard, spinach, arugula)

You should not need to water cold frames, mini hoop tunnels or mulched crops in the winter. Depending on the year, you can usually stops watering by late November, but it would not hurt to open your cold frames completely during mid and late autumn rainstorms. You don’t need to water during the winter months, because plants aren’t actively growing and are not transpiring and therefore, are not drying out. Also consider this, a closed cold frame retains moisture. This will naturally recycle it back into the soil like a mini ecosystem.

Sources:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/harvesting-in-the-winter-is-possible-with-a-little-preparation-1.819266
http://yearroundveggiegardener.blogspot.ca/2012/02/mini-hoop-tunnels-in-summer.html
http://www.gardenaction.co.uk/greenhouse/cold-frames.asp
http://www.theganjier.com/2015/07/28/8-questions-to-consider-when-buying-greenhouse-plastic/

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Luckily i have no need for a hot house, as LA has perfect weather year round. But awesome post reguardless.

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You are truly blessed to live in a climate like that. I was clearly born in the wrong country...LOL But love my gardening. So how do you grow veg that require cold weather like brussle sprouts and parsnips and sweet potatoes?

Great post ,brillaint pictures and full of good advise, I loved it. Is that top picture of your gaden, its stunning ?! Resteem for sure.

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Many Thanks for the Resteem and vote. No it is not my garden. Here is my cold frame and my greenhouse I use all winter18446523_10155372329382244_3840163851721992329_n.jpg

18624669_10155396112457244_227259256_n.jpg

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That's really awesome!

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Hah, I've got one of these little green plastic greenhouses just the same. I am actually moving it into the polytunnel for the winter to see what I can do with a double layer.

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me too I am using 6 mill plastic. Never tried it before so i am going to give it a go

The picture with the straw bales and windows/cover looks so simple. I have often thought about some kind of cold frame to have here and that appears to be simple and easy. No power tools needed for construction.

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No power tools, and the straw is a great insulator, and you can generally find old windows everywhere. Good Luck

Awesome post! I live in TX so no need for a cold frame, my balcony gets great sunlight!

Awesome that you included some plants that could be grown in winter in a cold frame. I have always wanted to try this but after a summer and fall of harvest I usually am ready to take a break from gardening for a little while :) I have 2 patio glass doors that would make awesome covers for a cold frame so maybe this year I'll give 'er a go!

Awesome possum !! Nice post this great input for me . Thanks again:)

This is awesome. I grew up in Vermont and we never thought to attempt any type of winter gardening. now, I live down in Virginia out on the coast and it seems like a logical thing to do. Definitely going to apply some of these awesome ideas! great post and definitely worth the a resteem.

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Thank you. I think the hardest part is blowing the snow down to the gardens. lol

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Yeah I can see how that can be a little discouraging... we don't get too much snow here in VA thankfully - more Ice than anything else. And if we do get snow it does not stick around for more than a week at the most. I commend anyone who can live sustainable in the Northern parts of the US/Canada.

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Thank you we do live on our hockey timmies to keep us warm and a good pair of Sorel boots and North face jackets

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I hear that! We were always partial to a good Carhartt Jacket as it took a hearty beating in the barn all winter long. That and a good pair of long thermal undies. ....yeah I don't miss that bitter cold one bit. I miss the cool summers though.

Awesome ideas, and so well explained. I just love the straw-bale wall with the glass windows on top. Had some friends use a very similar contraption for extending the season into the Hungarian winter (very continental, not unlike Ontario).

I like the fact that you showed the different examples using recycled material. Money should never have to be an issue when growing a garden.

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I just picked up some cold frames on clearance at TSC! I am hoping to keep my ginger alive a little past first frost!

This post has received a 0.63 % upvote from @drotto thanks to: @banjo.

You did a really good job putting information together with pictures. I think this past Winter we only had two days where the temp dropped below freezing.

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Thank you. You are lucky we had I think 2 days that didn't LOL

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On the flip side of that coin while you were pulling a jacket on last night I was outside working until about 10pm and the sweat was rolling. Like jump into a swimming pool and then go work, gross. On top of that musquitoes were out in full force.

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Ya you can have that. My jacket is just fine, no mosquitos. LOL Plant some lemon grass and mint and lavender then you will have very little mosquitos.

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I enjoyed your post very much and thank goodness we have no snow where I live.