What are your plans for the big warm up?

treebarb Z5 DenverJanuary 8, 2010

It's been cold a long time. I am so looking forward to the warm week ahead. I have fence to mend in the morning. The horses are sick of the corral and took it out on a corner. I might kick them loose to the pasture. We certainly don't need to water anything outside, one upside to all this snow. It's been pretty quiet on the forum lately so I decided to babble to you. I don't have cabin fever yet but it's coming. What's cooking?


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Cabin fever? whats cabin fever?
Got so bad this week that I inventoried my tomato seeds.
First thing I need to do is put on boots and take the garbage out to the alley dumpster.
Yea, its quiet here. Some of the other forums are spitting at each other. Seems to be a natural thing this time of year. I even had to mix in. Not my usual self controlled self.
Skybird arn't you flying this month?
KennyP in cold Kersey Co

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 10:30PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Uhhh ... what warm up? Our forecast doesn't have us above freezing for the next seven days, and lows mostly in the single digits. Basically, the same weather we've had for over a month now.

What's cooking? Like Kenny, I've been playing with my seeds, LOL. Taking inventory, arranging group swaps and individual trades, planning my grow list, looking through catalogs and circling anything new I'd like to try, and starting up my wintersowing again.

Other than that, I'm just trying to catch up on things around the house, now that the kids are back in school.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 11:12PM
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Going to start laying out my greenhouse and then dig the holes. Maybe sow some seeds in dry mix and put in my cold frame. Then will give them moisture in late Feb or early March. Still have seed requests to fill and need to finalize my 010 tomato list. Have about all of my orders done and either received or wil when the time is right for potatoes and onions. Going to run the tiller over shallow one time and then will be ready for planting. Need to finish adding manure, admendments to the asparagus bed. Then will mulch it and set up a PVC row cover frame over half of the bed. Will cover it in later Feb so I'll have early asparagus from half of the bed. Imagine that is more than the warm up will allow me to get done. Jay

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 11:36PM
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Jay, your mention of a PCV row cover draws my attention. Each year I dream of green houses and such. Even considered the portable garage harbor freight has on sale for 190 dollars. Wish it was clear. Maybe leave the end open?
Anyway, I come down to the idea of just a couple of PVC tubes in a frame and clear plastic thrown over them. Could you kind of describe what it is you are doing?. I put buckets over tomatoes for our all ways late frost, but the problem is the cold ground and the poor things turn blue from the cold. I've even considered a heat tape buried.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 9:56AM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

In the Denver area we're supposed to get in the mid 40's day time, mid teens at night for the next week. Sorry, Bonnie, I'd send some warmth your way if I could.
Kenny, I agree there's been a lot of snippiness on the forums lately, thank goodness not on RMG!
Elkwc, I can't imagine digging holes right now, I'm impressed! Do fill us in on your greenhouse plans. It makes sense to extend our short growing season. I think Dan was going to build a cold frame using cattle panel.
I usually start my tomato seeds in flats in the east facing bay window in February and plant them out in Walls of Water in late April or early May. But I have a 6 month old kitten this year and I don't think that's going to fly. I was listening to John Cretti's radio show last weekend and his co-host is going to start his pepper seeding in about 2 weeks.
I have catalogs I haven't opened yet, I still have plenty of seed from last year. About all I'm going to order is Yukon Gold potatoes. I did pretty well with them last year, so I'll try them again.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 10:49AM
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david52 Zone 6

I've got a computer thats dying. So I've been trying to get my seed order in and it crashes about 15 minutes into the order, so then I get frustrated, and go do something else. We still have a foot of snow on the ground.

The upshot of all this, my kids can XC ski very close - most years past, the days have been warming up into the 40's and it melts off so fast that we have to drive way up the river to find enough snow. Not so now.

Kenny, I'm kicking around the idea of a really simple 'hillbilly solar' way of heating up the soil faster. I mean, something black that holds water, sitting in the sun gets hot. 1/2 inch drip irrigation tube is cheap. Duct tape, I got. I just need to figure out a way to circulate the hot water in a loop. If I can locate a solar-powered little in-line pump, bingo.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 10:54AM
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I've used plastic buckets, WOW's ect for tomatoes for several years. Have studied the other means many use and just started using and experimenting with some of them the last few years. Last year was my first year for cold frames and this year added a hot frame. Haven't checked this morning but so far my greens have survived well in the cold frame during this cold spell. With more people wanting to grow more of what they grow and also with farmer's markets getting popular and more wanting to have produce early you are seeing many methods being tried to get an earlier start.

I hope to lay out a greenhouse I'm making from surplus pipe ect I have on hand. Will have to buy the plastic to cover it. When it comes to row covers there are many ways and most work. Some bend electrical conduit and use it for hoops. What I'm using is either 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch pvc pipe. Drive a short rod or pipe ect in the ground that the pipe will either slide over or inside of. I space them about 4 ft a part. You decide how long the pipe needs to be by how tall you want it too be. I drill a hole through each pipe in the center top. The take another pipe and run lengthwise and wire it too each hoop. This keeps them the proper distance and give support. Then just pull plastic over it and either put dirt on the ends or nail boards on each side to hold it down. This way is easy to remove and store when not needed. This will be my first year trying it on the asparagus. Have read where I can extend my harvest 3-4 weeks this way. Will do half of the bed and then when the uncovered bed starts will uncover the other. Hope I'm clear enough that you understand what I'm doing. Please ask any questions. Jay

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 10:58AM
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Dan Staley

I'm teaching a seed-starting class in Feb so I'll start some seeds in the window and in the starting box for comparison to sacrifice for the class. I'll clean out the garage. I think I'll put out black fabric to tell the soil that planting time is on the horizon. I'll definitely have the covers off the hoops for longer so the greens can feel happy again. I'll probably ride the bike down to the reservoir and take the binocs to get back in practice for the docent training I'll do next month at RMBO.

But to the underlying point: IMHO being a newbie here I find the climate challenging but there is plenty of opportunity to extend the season on both sides, and this warm spell is part of the reason. I think it is doable to extend the season 4 weeks, and I'm working to develop transferable ways to make this easier for many more folks and get these things out there.

David, e-mail me and we can discuss your hillbilly solar. I have one now and did one for a buddy. Have several projects right now on deadline, but I'll do my best to be responsive [photobucket outline here].


    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 11:29AM
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Dan Staley


before you buy your plastic read the fine print. There are several that don't warranty their product if it touches PVC - Tufflite III comes immediately to mind, as it is widely sold in the catalogues.

Johnny's Seed has started to sell a pipe bender and associated products for low tunnels and their direction is galvanized EMT because it is similarly-priced to PVC and much, much stronger. In fact, that reminds me: Johnny's is a good place to go to get up to speed on all the stuff available for season extension.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 11:37AM
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What a nice bunch of comments. Seem we all think alike. Nice pictures Dan.
I Think for a start that the first day it warms up I will make a trip to the local "habitat for humanity" warehouse and see if the have any cheap windows I can scrounge.
Does PVC bend enough? I was considering a bunch of connectors for square construction. Costly. I see lots of plans for larger hoop houses. But I just want to get a jump on the season.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 12:16PM
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Dan Staley

As I sit typing my curriculum, I came across this nice CSU Ext publication about season extension, pg 3 has a decent pic of a tunnel using CRW, here is how someone did one with EMT, here is another in a much more aesthetic design, I'll hinge the bottom of my cattle panel similar to that, but with beefier stuff for our wind.

Now I use 3/4 black poly for hoops on 1/2 rebar and poly clips to hold material down. I also have 1/2 EMT conduit that I may replace the poly with, as it sags under more than ~5-6" of snow, bending into a semicircle.

OK, back to it. Have fun!


    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 2:34PM
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I appreciate the information. I probably didn't make myself clear. For the greenhouse I'm using galvanized pipe. It is 1 5/8" heavy commercial grade galvanized pipe used for chain link fences. We used a hydraulic conduit bender to bend the top sections. Made a gothic style. I do some electrical work so either have or have access to all the tools and equipment I need. I try to do things as cheap as possible. I will take some pictures as I construct it and try to post them later. So the plastic for that will go over galvanized pipe. It will be stronger than most commercial houses. I want the frame to last my lifetime.

For the temporary row covers I prefer pvc or poly pipe as it is easier and quicker to set up and take down and store. And cheaper for me to buy.Also can change widths easier. For most I will use the cheaper plastic I can get locally. Save shipping costs. For the main garden I'm thinking of trying the slitted row cover.

I like Johnny's site as they have lots of good information. There are several more good sources of information out there. Territorial Seeds have some good information also. They just cut their pvc or poly pipes at an angle and stick in the ground. Location and how long you intend to have it up makes a lot of difference in what choice you make.

I liked the EMT cover in the link you provided for a more permanent structure.

I've seen some that use the galvanized cattle panels. I have a coworker who made a hoop house out of large poly pipe and it has worked well. There are many options. I try to use what I have or can find the cheapest. And forums have lots of great information and ideas that help each of us. Jay

Here is a link that might be useful: Territorial Seeds

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 10:59AM
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david52 Zone 6

Dan, I will do so. I have a couple of busy-body weeks here with doing taxes and FASA applications and college scholarship applications and then my mind can get back to important stuff.

Speaking of Territorial, I noticed they carry the 'super safe fan', page 142 in the catalog and linked. These things are great. Use very little power, move an awful lot of air quietly. We use them in the winter to circulate the heat from the wood stove, and they stay on, day and night, for months at a time. With that regime, they last about 3 seasons. They're often very hard to find.

They're also great for circulating air in a greenhouse.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fans

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 4:47PM
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Dan Staley

I'd definitely like to see pix, Jay. I tried that slitted row cover last year from Territorial and the wind shredded it within two weeks (if it were more than, say, 3-4 mil it would work), but out here I expect gusts in the 40s for a total of at least 8-10 hours in the spring, which is not like most places not on the Great Plains.

David, I asked Santa for that fan for my seedlings. I think it dropped out of the sleigh and someone else got it.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 5:18PM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

I go out and check my garlic now and then. So far it seems to have survived the extended cold snap.

So funny that you all have been playing with your seeds, 'cause so have I! I'm also planning new seeds for the spring as well, and plotting out the space in my two raised beds.

I'm debating whether to put in a third bed this year. It's a lot of work and I have other things I need to do. But with the garlic taking up half of one bed, I'm short on planting space. Maybe I'll just get another Earthbox instead.

I am planning on some of the garden clips that Territorial sells. I got a bit of short rebar and some 1/2" polyvinyl piping and I'm hoping that I can cover over one of my raised beds and see if I can get the tomatoes out earlier this year.

I have to start thinking about the garden. The cold cold cold has brought on my own spring fever a month earlier than it usually arrives, and I'll go crazy if I don't distract myself!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 5:59PM
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Dan Staley

I don't purchase clips, I make them. Take the same poly tubing and cut 1-2" lengths. Then turn them vertically and cut out lengthwise a notch about 1/6 of the diameter. Voila! You can take a piece of sandpaper or a hot bar and take the sharp edges down to cut down on wear on your row covers.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 10:49AM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

Oh what a clever idea! thanks for that.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 3:52PM
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Wow, lots of activity here lately, sounds like everyone is ready to get started growing again! So I read up on the CSU paper on extending the growing season, and now I plan on covering my 4x8 raised bed, and adding black mulch. My question is, if I do those things, how soon can I plant my tomatoes (and other veggies)? Last year was my first, and I planed in late April I beleive. Of course only a few days after I planted we had a snow. Didn't kill anything, but I'm guessing it wasn't good. Looking forward to hearing what you all plan as far as timing. Not sure if I'll try raising from seeds or just buy seedlings yet.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 1:07PM
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Dan Staley

I use Walls o' Water set out a week before I put the toms out (~4/15, last frost usu ~Mothers day) and before that I put out something to heat the soil. Warm-seasons like toms and peppers and tomatillos and eggplant need WOWs or cloches prior to Mothers' Day.

Cool seasons, all you need is warm soil. If you buy seeds for extending the season - lettuce, greens, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, etc., esp. for fall make sure you get some that say 'cold tolerant' rather than 'bolt resistant'. I'm overwintering spinach and it looks like my lettuce, arugula, and mustards will survive the winter under hoops as well, all are marked 'cold tolerant'. Spring planting you should plant some that say 'bolt resistant' as the heat comes rapidly around here.

And he-double-hockey-sticks YES I'm ready for the ground to thaw!


    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 2:06PM
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Thanks for the information about the slitted row cover. What I was looking at wasn't from Territorial but imagine it maybe the same mil. I may check. But will probably just order extra 6 mil when I order for the greenhouse. We've had unexpected problems at work and haven't been able to do anything on it this week. But will post pictures as I progress. Jay

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 8:43AM
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