Friday, January 10, 2014

Gardening with Bell Jars and Cold Frames

I think we're all looking forward to Spring, aren't we?
I know it's a few months off, but Winter has turned so dreary and COLD. . . .I live in the South and we're just not used to these below freezing temperatures. . . .Thinking about Spring gardens takes my mind off the weather outdoors. . . .and  because of a recent visit to the past, I now have the bug to build cold frames so we'll have fresh veggies the year round.
Welcome to the Colonial Garden!
Sunny and warm. . . .a Spring day? . . .NOT. . . .It's a cold and windy Winter day in December.
Doesn't look it, does it?
And such beautiful veggies!
We spent a bit of time with the gardener at Colonial Williamsburg that day. . . .Since we eat a lot of vegetables, I had been doing research on cold frames--to hurry up Spring planting. . . .Mind you, I wasn't born with a green thumb. . . .but, a person can always learn. . . .Right? . . . I'm not so sure John was as enthusiastic as I. . . .He knew what was coming. . . .He'd have to build those cold frames. . . .but I assured him I would help. . . .(????)
 I remember my Grandmother using cold frames to start her seedlings toward the end of Winter. . . .What I don't remember is her ever using an insulation material around the frame. . . .Loved the concept! . . .It would be so simple to utilize here at the farm.
At the CW nursery, the upper part of the cold frames were constructed from wood and painted white. . . . Not only does the white paint look more appealing, it also helps reflect sunlight onto the plantings when skies are gray.

The boxes were then placed on stacked brick to lift the wood off the ground and away from any wood loving insects. . .Inside some, the gardener dug a trench in the ground for additional protection. . . .depending on how tender the plants.

The next step was to weave a wattle fence a little distance from the cold frame, then fill the space in between with a thick layer of hay. . . .The plants are protected from the cold Winter weather like a blanket. . . .With a couple of discarded glass windows on top, the sun will warm the cold frame during the day and provide light for the seedlings to grow. . . .(that sounds odd, doesn't it? a warm cold frame?) . . . .These nursery plants were thriving and will produce throughout the Winter and into Spring. . . .How I wish my garden looked like this!
Besides being functional, the colonial cold frames add so much to the garden. . . .I'm thinking about placing them inside the fenced garden spot we have at the back door. . . .where I can tend to them quickly and have the fresh vegetables close at hand. 

When Spring gets a little closer, I'd like to try my hand with bell jars, too . . . .also known as cloches.
They are so lovely in a garden. . . .and very vintage looking.
Beautiful and functional, too. . . .
Notice how the straw is used here-- to keep the moisture in the ground
until the seeds sprout--and maybe for a little insulation, too.
How many bell jars did I buy? . . . Only one. . . .We didn't have room in the car for more with all our other purchases. . . .I'll try looking for them closer to home. . . .They can be a bit pricey. . . .so, I'm thinking about alternatives. . . .Any suggestions?

 One of the reasons I love about visiting historic sites such Colonial Williamsburg is the knowledge we can obtain from the past. . . .Their ways are usually simpler. . . .and easy to incorporated into our everyday living here on the farm. . . .Plus the visit to the nursery sparked my interest in gardening again. . . . making-do with the materials we have on hand and creating beauty at the same time.

I'm more than ready to get started. . . .one day soon. . . .when it's a little warmer.

. . .from our farmhouse to yours. . .



Pamela Gordon said...

I think that would be great for you in your climate Dru. It's not as cold or snowy there so you could make it work for sure. It won't work here until about April I think. And to think we use cloches in our homes to display decorative things under. :)

Heide at ApronHistory said...

I have always been fascinated with greenhouses and cold frames. But I don't think we could keep plants going all year in this climate. Though I think it is a great idea for starting seedling! I wonder if we could turn raised beds into cold frames by just putting glass windows over them? Interesting idea....
Love the pictures of Williamsburg!

endah murniyati said...

Wow the beds are so stunning. The parsley row is so wonderful. A great gardening!

flame93 said...

Also checkout this organic gardening system

lynda said...

My father was a terrific gardener. He also used hot beds to get things going early..using the heat generated by fresh manure to get your plants going. I have a bell jar or two, but at the price they cost they are not leaving the house! Some people use large plastic soda bottles, bit they are so light, blow away in any sort of wind...loved those photos! Williamsburg has such great gardens!

Anonymous said...

Great post Dru, thanks. I did not know about the insulation part...but it sure makes sense. What a dream garden. We are slowly getting started on a garden, but will be growing it 'up'.

Pam said...

Great post, I loved all the pretty photos.

Christy W said...

I love this post. Was wondering if large canning jars would work? Makes me want to try it! Maybe in the beginning before the plant got too big. What is your opinion?
Christy @

Martha Ellen said...

I love the garden in Williamsburg that you visited. Since we live in Va we visit there often. The gardener there is always so helpful! I love visiting your blog and your lovely Country Farm Home. ♥

Old Time Cindy said...

Hey Dru,
That system is so attractive, isn't it!?! I'll have to share my method sometime (effective, but not as pretty).
Farmhouse hugs,

Melanie said...

I love all your ideas and you are an amazing decorator...your Christmas photos were amazing!!
Have a good week!

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