Homesteading In The Pacific Northwest

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Fall and Winter Garden...."Eliot Coleman meets Mel Bartholmew"

Well, I have to tell you that my summer garden did not do well this year.  Between us having unusually cold, wet summer weather and my being out of commission for two months after knee replacement surgery, I did not get nearly the harvest that I had hoped for.  But, looking on the bright side, I had time to do a lot of reading during July and August.  I was very impressed with Eliot Coleman's books on extended season gardening...


After reading Mr. Coleman's books I searched the catalogs of some of my favorite seed suppliers and bought root vegetables and greens that should do well here during a Washington fall and winter (I'll write more about them in a later post).  I did a lot of thinking about how to set up my garden beds.  The old wooden beds were functional but not very pretty and were also difficult to move if needed (our septic system drain field is under the area where the garden sits...if we have a problem with the system, the garden has to move).  I had based the original concept of my raised bed gardens on Mel Bartholomew's book...

I really liked the clean, neat look of Mel's white garden beds and was pleased to find that I could buy them online from the Square Foot Gardening Foundation.  I thought they seemed a bit pricey, but after using them I think they are worth every penny!  They are everything they claimed they would be...easy to put together, sturdy and easy to move if needed. I was able to have Mike remove the boards from one of the old beds and put one of the new beds together in its place without disturbing my potaoto crop!  And the service from the people at the Foundation was exceptional!

The hoop houses and other forms of  "cold frames" described in Mr. Coleman's books looked like a lot more work than I was able to do myself.  Mike's been very busy with work lately, so I didn't want to ask him for help building the bed covers. I had bought one of the Flower House pop up greenhouses from the Bark and Garden Nursery in Olympia last spring and was very happy with it, so I ordered one of the Flower House "starter houses" which looked like it might work for what I wanted.  Yes!!  It fit perfectly over a 4' x 8' raised bed and was very easy to set up.  I've already bought another one and will probably buy a couple of the 4' x 4' covers next.

My three 4' x 8' raised beds (two covered and the open potato bed) and the pop up greenhouse.  I'm still working on the 4' x 4' beds and will have photos of them soon.



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