Welcome to Bepa's Garden!
This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living.
Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews.
I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden!
Happy Gardening!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hay Day

Friday was "Hay Day" for our bunnies - when they get their annual bale of hay for their pen. It's become a sort of ritual every year, about the time I get the firewood all split and stacked for the winter,  I split up a bale of hay and spread it around to keep them warm for the winter. They have dug a series of tunnels under their pen which they sleep in every night. All three rabbits immediately come up to see what's going on and join in helping to spread the hay throughout their home.

Maisy at the opening to their tunnel.
 They tunnel through the hay like moles, grabbing mouthfuls as they plow. Then they run down into their burrow filling it up and come up for another mouthful! They frolic and play and run around like kids playing in leaves! It is really a sight!


Niffer eating maple leaves that fall on their pen.

Now the firewood is all split and stacked, the quail have been moved from the greenhouse into the basement and the bunnies have their hay for warmth. We are all ready for winter!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finishing the mini-greenhouses

There is a frost predicted for next Friday, so today I put the 6-mil greenhouse film on both of the mini-greenhouses. Both units have wire hoops inside with row covers rolled up on the side that I can pull over for extra protection when the evening temperatures go down into the teens. There is also a thermometer sensor mounted in one of the mini-greenhouses transmitting to a weather station in my home office so I can monitor the temps. If it gets too warm I can prop open the roof panels to let cool air in. I may eventually add solar operated vents to automatically open the roof panels if it gets too warm inside.

In the first mini-greenhouse I have planted leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, kale and scallions. I will also be adding some spinach in next week along with successive planting of lettuce.

In the second unit I have planted red cabbage, green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and more kale. 
Some of the cabbage will be for our rabbits during the winter!

Cabbage (Alcosa Savoy) planted on 8/1/10

I have had the plants covered with row covers to keep out pests and to protect them from cool evening temps until I was able to put on the greenhouse film. Except for an early attack of cabbage worms and an intrusive mole who burrowed through my carrots, everything seems to be coming in nicely!

In the spring I am planning on starting my tomato plants early in one of the mini-greenhouses, planting them directly in the beds and then removing the roof panels when the plants grow tall and the temps warm up. It will be nice to have early tomatoes!

This is my first attempt at growing a winter garden and I am keeping a crop journal to track the progress. I will be posting updates and photos throughout the winter to see how the mini greenhouses work for growing a winter garden. If the units perform well, I am planning on building some out of red cedar with removable polycarbonate panels, automatic solar vent openers and drip irrigation systems.

If you would like to build a mini-greenhouse for yourself you can download plans here. If you do build one, please send photos and let me know how it worked out for you!


The Chicken Chick


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mini greenhouse (cold frame) - Part 2

With winter right around the corner I have been working on finishing the mini-greenhouses. The night temps have been fairly stable with a few nights in the upper 30's, but we still haven't had our first frost yet.

I have finished building the 2nd mini-greenhouse this past weekend. I have purchased some coiled row cover wire from Johnny's to support the row covers inside. The wire comes in a 60' roll that you can cut to the lengths you choose. I cut mine in 63" lengths for the lettuce and a little larger for the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.

The row covers should offer enough protection for now, but in another week or so I am also going to cover each unit with 6 mil greenhouse plastic. Eliot Coleman, in his book The Winter harvest Handbook, calls this method of double layered protection "twice-tempered". Eliot states that "the inner climate is moved three USDA zones to the south" and winter vegetables with thrive under these conditions. Everything seems to be coming in nice, so hopefully we will be harvesting lettuce  and other winter veggies throughout the winter!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Building the mini-greenhouse

I spent the morning building the first of the mini-greenhouses for my winter garden. . This unit is 4' wide x 8' long x 44" tall, is made out of 2x3's and has hinged roof panels. As I was building it I thought it might be too big making it difficult to reach inside to harvest or plant, but now that it is finished I am very pleased with how it turned out. Each roof panel is wide enough to allow room to easily reach inside. All four roof panels are hinged so there is access from both sides.

While the temps are still above freezing I am using row covers to protect the plants. I purchased some greenhouse film that I will install later this month as the nigh-time temps begin to drop. I am considering attaching the film to panels so I can easily remove them in the spring and go back to using row covers (for seedlings). In the summer I plan on leaving the mini-greenhouse in the garden (without covering) for the plants to grow inside, but I've constructed the mini-greenhouse in sections so I can easily break it down and store in the shed.

I have posted the basic plan if anyone is interested in building one. Click here to download. 

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