Monday, November 14, 2011

Cold Frames, Horse Manure and Salsify

Last week we finally got the soil into our first ever cold frame and planted several things. Not all the plants fit into that frame. So this week we built a second one. There's nothing like plants that need a home to motivate a gardener to work. It was either build a home for them or throw them out. There's no way we're throwing them out! Carrots and salsify (a white root vegetable) have been growing under lights inside for weeks. They've been too much work to just throw out. We now have a total of about 40 square feet of garden space in cold frames, that should be enough space for all our plants.

I'm really pleased because we made them of almost 100% recycled material -scrap wood, throw away window pains, free horse manure and composted yard waste. We spent a grand total of $50.00 to complete them!

You can see how we pieced the scrap wood together. (Both frames are pictured.)

Our soil concoction for the first frame is unusual (pictured below). We layered 2 feet of fresh horse manure, 6 inches of sand and then 6 inches of "potting soil" (which is essentially composted yard waste) into the frame.  We're hoping the manure will get hot as is composts and warm the frame during the coming cold months. It's an idea Belle read about in one of her gazillion library books that pass through here. We also added a light to the frame that runs for about 3 hours a day just before sunrise. Thanks Robin for that suggestion. Our plants are growing! 
The horse farm
Hot manure
2 feet of hot manure in the bottom of the frame.
6 inches of sand to keep the germs away from our veggies.
Red leaf lettuces were begun under lights inside the house,
along with salsify, beets, one cabbage and a light.


  1. Hi Jody...great lookin frame...100% recycled material are always great to work with...they help u save on cost & of course, the environment..:)

  2. Thanks Hangkebon, I'm really thankful that we were able to get this done this fall.

  3. Looks great! You are ahead of me. I haven't added my lights yet. I will get them in this week for sure. It's a good thing that you have Belle with her gardening experience and to do all that research!

  4. Can you believe we have no cold frames? Great job getting them together and with used up 'stuff'.

  5. Robin, I probably wouldn't do a lick of gardening without Belle's inspiration.

    Apple Pie Gal, we almost didn't get them built this season. They came togther haphazardly, one piece at a time over several months. I was never sure we'd build them until they were done.

  6. Everything looks great!! You will love cold frame gardening, there is something really satisfying for me when I scrape the snow off my cold frames and harvest veggies in January!!

  7. Hello! Love your blog! I saw you joined mine and I appreciate that. I'm jealous of your coldframe, hope we have one or two this time next year!

    OK, I will admit I don't know anything about "Salsify". What is it? What does it tasted like? How do you cook it? I'm sensing a blog post! ha.

    Keep up the good work!

  8. Wonderful! Well done on the materials. I'm very interested in how well this works for you. I've never made a cold frame and could use some tips.

  9. Stoney Acres, wouldn't that be great, to have veggies in January. I can hardly imagine it.

    1st Man, I know hardly a thing about salsify myself. It seems to be well known around here, but we're new around here. We thought we'd try it. All I know is that it's a hardy (thus the cold frame) white root vegetable that can be used in soups like you might use turnips. I'll have to post about it, when we use it in a dish.

    Leigh, thanks. It feels good to get it done so inexpensively and with recycled material. We're hoping for the best results possible now. We'll have to keep posting.

  10. Wow, sounds like you have the cold frame bug like me! I'm up to 4 now. Using that manure for heat sounds like the way the old-timers did it. I seem to remember Crockett's Victory Garden talking about that.

    Salsify is one thing I've never grown. I've eaten it, but it's been a long time ago, probably when my I was living at home and my mother made it. I don't remember what she did with it though!

  11. Good luck with your cold frames. Looks like you're off to a good start.

    Could you do a post on your indoor under light growing setup? Do you use it all season long? I think that info, descriptions and/or pics pertaining to this aspect of your gardening would help me a lot.

  12. Dave, we've got the bug for sure. I'm not sure we'll be very successful this time around. We're doing everything we can. I hope you have perfect success

  13. Howard, we have 6 shelves with two lights each. I've had something growing at least some of the lights since last February. I don't think I'll keep growing things all the way through winter. With cold frames I've read it's good to start under lights and get a good strong plant started before you put it in the frame.

  14. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

  15. Horse manure will help to keep the soil warm as well I think as they break down. Hope you have fresh veggies to harvest in winter!