Crazy Garden Lady

kaleI think I have officially become the crazy garden lady.

This whole “let’s extend the garden season” has become a bit of an obsession.

Case in point –

One evening last week I realized while listening to the late news that the temperature could dip below freezing over night.

How had I missed this?

It was now after dark, Jan wasn’t home and my poor precious plants were ready to die a vicious death in the cold.

I had flashbacks of the poor tender seedlings I murdered in the spring.

No – I couldn’t let it end this way!

I grabbed Buddy and we headed out into the pitch black night to rescue my broccoli and cabbages.

We couldn’t find a flashlight – so Buddy grabbed the little solar lamp by the workshop. And with its feeble light we slowly ventured out to the garden and attempted to cover the plants using tarps and bricks.

In the wind.

And the dark.

And the cold.

I only ran into the electric fence once.

At one point I thought, “This is crazy!”

And it was.

You know those those plants have done nothing all week but stay alive? They haven’t grown or changed or produced huge heads. Nothing.

How’s that for gratitude?

I’m done.

There’s a deep freeze coming next week and I decided to let them go.

That’s it.

No more covering them.

No more worrying about them.

I’m finished.

End of the garden 2014.

Well… except for those few kale plants and lettuce that Buddy and I put in a cold frame we made out cinder blocks and old windows.

I read somewhere that you could keep kale alive all winter…

Yep. Crazy garden lady.

Frost Drill

I’m still gardening.

Isn’t that crazy?

Here it is the last week of October and I’m still picking green beans and peppers!

Not that we haven’t had our close calls. We had a couple of mad dashes to the garden at sunset to cover plants, pick remaining produce and once to cut back all the sweet potato vines – just in case.

Plants got nipped both times – but we’re still gardening!

The melons, squash and pumpkins are done.

IMG_1670I’d say we did pretty good!

Take that you varmint squash bugs! I won this year!

Now to try every pumpkin recipe known to mankind to use them all up.

The sweet potatoes were dug for the first time ever.

They too were numerous – and in some cases – monstrous.

Like this one…

sweet potato It almost looks like a human heart! It’s actually several grown together because our soil was too clay to give them room.

It made a massive amount of sweet potato fries!

And remember those cabbage, broccoli and kale plants I put in for a fall crop?

They’re still alive! And growing!

We had kale for several meals and fresh lettuce again. The cabbage and broccoli are making nice heads – but they need a little more time.

I’m not sure we’ll get it though – the forecast calls for a killing frost Friday night.

Grow little broccoli and cabbage – grow fast!

Maybe my amazing husband can engineer some cold frames or hoop houses?

Or maybe I should just let the season end – thankful it was the best garden we’ve had in years.

Or maybe I should make another new pumpkin recipe while I decide.

Yes,  definitely that one.

Cold Frames and Cold Weather!

A dream came true for me a few weeks ago… I have a cold frame.

Now many of you are probably looking at me a little funny. What in the world is a cold frame and why is it a dream come true? I’m so glad you asked!

A cold frame is basically a portable green house. You can plant seeds in the ground and cover them with the cold frame to extend your growing season.

I’ve had one on my husband’s “honey do” list for several years, but it never quite happened. It took the high cost of fresh produce this spring to send him out to the shop to figure out something!

Now this cold frame will never grace the cover of Better Homes and Gardens because it isn’t very attractive. It’s a big white plastic square container that my husband found in his pile of treasures out behind the shop. (I used to call this his “junk pile” but have since learned that he can make amazing things from his pile of junk-I mean treasures!)

He cut off the top and bottom and set it on my newly planted lettuce and spinach plants. An old wooden gate on the top allowed rain to come in and still keep chickens out.

No, it isn’t pretty. But it works! I just checked today and I have the cutest little lettuce and spinach plants popping up!

It has been unseasonably cold here the last few days and we’ve even had snow flurries. I won’t be in the big garden for at least another week or more to plant anything. Yet, I have a head start. By the time I get the rest of the seeds in the ground, we should be eating and enjoying fresh baby lettuce and spinach.

Yes, it is a “make-do” cold frame. But that’s what homesteaders do best. We take what we have and re-purpose it to make what we need.

Now I have fresh vegetables growing in a cold frame that cost us nothing but a little time and some ingenuity!

I can almost taste the fresh salad now!