Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Experimental Hot House Garden

The last post on the DIY coldframe was sticking to tried and true territory. But along the way to finding an even cheaper option my brain came up with this:

What you see here is my attempt to make a hothouse in Suburbia sans fresh cow manure. The idea of a hot house is simple. Take a cold frame, but dig down 18" or so. Then fork in a foot of fresh cow/horse manure mixed with straw and then top it with 6" of good topsoil. The manure will compost over the next months and heat the soil under your plants keeping them toasty while the weather outside is frightful, plus provide your crop with wicked good nutrients. Love the idea! Don't have any manure. I do have 2 full bins of compost freshly turned and ready to fire. My bins hit 140 degrees... heck why not? So I basically put a reinforced version of the No Tech coldframe on top of my compost bin and we'll see what happens. One addition not in these shots is that I strapped a bungee cord over the top to keep it from blowing off.

Steps for the No Tech Frame will come this weekend, but here is how I built the Hybrid Tech System, which wil lset you back about $13 if you get the covers on sale:

2 Plastic Window Well Covers ($5-10 each)
1 1x2x8' Firring strip
7 #6 machine screws/nuts/washers ($1-2)

Saw (hand or power) to cut firring strips
Tape measure
Screwdriver and pliers for machine screws
Clamp to hold sides together during assemble
Drill with 1/8" bit
First up is building a frame to brace the well covers and give it support enough to hold together with the compost bin pushing them apart. The Plastic Covers I had came with a nice indent that when two covers were fitted together formed a 1x2 gap-hence the firring strip. Cut the strips to match the dimensions of the gap in the covers you find. Once the strips are cut, clamp the two covers together with the cuts strips inside as so:
Once the firring strips are in place drill holes thru the covers and strips and insert the machine screws, with a washer on each side, as so. I put 2 on each side and 3 across the top. I did not use any glue or join the wood at all, trusting in the plastic to provide a degree of rigidity.

That's it! I ensured prior to this that my compost bin was the right size. To find my plans on my uber cheap and portable compost bin check out my other blog. Before capping the bin I threw on an inch or so of finished compost, raked it level and sprinkled in carrot, spinach and radish seeds. My hope is that the incredibly loose compost will make for amazing root crops. And I have utterly failed to grow spinach this year for reasons unknown. With the seeds going on pure compost if spinach won't grow there I will either get my soil professionaly tested or stop trying spinach.

This 'garden' will be way out on the experimental limb. We'll keep you posted. Another thought was that if you can find the plastic window well inserts that match these covers and are about 18-24" high you could build a coldframe without wood and with very little carpentry. Ironically Menard's had lots of window wells, but none to fit the covers-go figure!

Stay tuned for the No Tech Cold Frame!


Blogger CyclingGuy said...

well, how did it work out?
Negative results are as useful as positive results if they keep somebody else from walking in the same path unnecessarily.

7:24 PM  

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