We Are Eli And Kate...

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One way to beat frosts and freezes in the garden

The excitement of winter growing for harvest is in full swing now that we have little plants to actually plant out into the garden – and yes I know some of you guys find that idea terrifying… but stick with us. As well as planting out, I’m testing out some different things so you guys can follow on and see the impact. That way you can take whatever ideas might work for you and your garden.

So it starts with the fact that I am growing in 3 different spaces, only one of which is the greenhouse. So let me tell you about the whole thing.

Obviously, you guys all know us for our greenhouse, and I suspect you watched along with us last year as we grew in the greenhouse, I bet you even chuckled at the times Kate tried to get carrots for dinner when the grown outside had frozen over, or at me harvesting broccoletto in the dark with a head torch. Well, we’re adding more to the outdoor growing this year, as I realised I hadn’t really spoken about it much last year and maybe you guys don’t realise that you can do bits and bobs outdoors over winter as well as in the greenhouse ( your climate dictates this obviously).

So our three spaces this year are the greenhouse, obviously. This is our protected space. It’s classed as undercover as it’s not heated however, you will still want to consider how you protect from frost, even in a greenhouse. It’s not as bad as outdoors, obviously but the greenhouse can get quite cold at night. There are a few ways gardeners have found to battle the cold in the greenhouse over the years, and contrary to popular belief, even those with power in the greenhouse rarely heat it over winter. It’s not really practical, however, some do have heaters that have a frost setting. This means they usually have a fan which circulates air to keep the greenhouse just above freezing, just. The moving air helps to stop water from the air settling onto plant leaves and stems and turning to frost. This is a lot more economical than trying to actually heat a greenhouse. The most common method you’ll see is to use propagators or cold frames. This works by providing a second layer of protection, the greenhouse being the first. This is my go-to method in winter. You can also use gardeners fleece to cover plants, again to provide a layer that stops frost from forming on the delicate plants.

Now, believe it or not, growing outdoors in the garden is very similar. You can start off providing protection by watching out for those spots in your garden that are most and least affected by frost. When you hear someone mention a frost pocket, that’s what they mean, a part of the garden that seems to be prone to frost. Knowing these areas means you can avoid planting in there over winter if you aren’t sure of how well your little plants will cope. But just like in the greenhouse, we can add extra layers of protection outdoors too. Again cold frames are great and you can use propagator lids or cloches to add a layer of protection. If you want to take that up a step, you can even create mini polytunnels using clear plastic or even bubblewrap. I’m going to be doing that shortly to keep with us to find out more about that one.

Today though, it was more about using different areas of the garden, remember I mentioned knowing where frost hits hardest? Well, that and I’m growing in different areas to provide back ups, so if one set of plants gets killed off by the weather or even pests, I’m hoping I’ll still have at least one more to back this up.

So my three spots are, well firstly obviously the greenhouse, secondly, I’m using 2 raised beds for winter growing this year and I’ll be covering those just to add that extra layer. The third is a new spot for our winter growing. it’s our big vegtrug. Now we have used this already for the strawberries but it just didn’t work out, the spot it’s in is a bit too shady for strawberries. However, we thought it would make for a great spot to test out a couple of things. Namely, can we grow winter greens in a shadier spot and secondly, we’ve noticed there seemed to be less of a problem with pests like slugs and snails in the veg trug, so we’re hoping this will help with snail and slug favourites like pak choi and lettuce.

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