There is no better way to prolong your growing season or start it earlie,r than to grow your vegetables in a Green House. Even though I compare GA to Satans Sauna most of the time, there are occassions where it so cold you would have thought that hell has just frozen over. I know you up north folk get down in the teens and single digits. But anything in the 30s around here is considered a State of an emergency. And yes.. Yes.. I know.. Im from up north... go figure!! But I will say that I have acclimatized myself to the warmth down here.
But getting to the Green House. Whatever you decide to do remember that most green Leafy vegetables do very well in a semi cold environment. I have found out that most plants are very tolerant of cold weather as long as it stays in the 40s. Once the temp dips below that call it quits. Now there are different trains of thoughts when growing in cooler weather, for instance down here in the south. We may have 30-40 degree nights but most of our days are in the 60s with full sun. Unlike the north where 40 degrees is the high and the lows stay in the 20s.
But either way a Green house of sort will prove to be beneficial. Pictured here is a simple design that I came up with that piggy backs off the Green house concept. I formulated my plan based off my raised beds that are 3'x6'. The Materials are as follows: 2 x Stakes $2.88 each, 1 x Roll of 4 mil heavy duty plastic $10, 10 x Wood Stakes 1"x2" x8' $1.88 a piece. Screws, powerdrill and Skill saw. The project took an evening to make three frames and went rather quick.
Even though I have pictured here the 1"x2"s that were cut to 6 ft for the length and 3 ft for the width. I found out that usung Treated 2" x 4" works so much better. I acheived success with the frames but over all I really like the sturdiness of the 2x4s for purposes of weather and for the occassional lean up against. I have boys and they like to hold every thing up with thier body. The stakes are awesome!! By placing them in the corner and fastening them down it really secures the frame. Which becomes a multi-use tool in the garden that I will explain in a bit.
Again the problem with using the smaller wood diameter opposed to the 2x 4s is fragility. However, by fastening the stakes to each corner screwing them in from both sides you are able to really make a strong structure. Remember these are frames. To serve as a base for a make shift green house that is not permanant but has plenty of uses.
When I started the raised beds a few years ago. I wanted to be able to have enough flexibility to add to the raise bed for how I saw fit. As the years past I look back and realized that this was a good decision to make raised beds. Now that I have my frames I am able to secure them in the beds and prep the beds for veggies and cover with the plastic.
As you can see I switched the the 2x4s with the stakes and added two 3ft beams across the frames to One- support the plastic, two serve as growing supports for warm weather crop and three... to help seperate and divide the raise bed for growing vegetables. Each column while looking through the top can now serve as a seperate growing window for each vegetable Variety. Im no genius.. But Im patting myself on the back for this one:)
Finally after the beds are prepped and seeds are sown and watered. The Plastic Cover can be pulled over the Beds. The $10 roll of 4 mil covers 250sqf.. For a more super heavy duty variety you can bump it up to 6 mil and that cost $28 for the roll to cover the same amount of sqf. The purpose of the Green House style frame is to provide enough humidity and warmth inside the Raised Beds that the Plants are not affected by the outside cold temp. There are several ways to refine this process to make the raised beds its own mini climate. I will expand on those later on this year. For now This is the cheapest way to provide just enough warmth to get the seeds germinated. Please keep in Mind that even on cold days if the Sun is out the Raised beds can get really hot and then you have an issue of over heating.. With this design its as simple as rolling the plastic Back to even out the Temp. I must say I am proud of this little garden. I look forward to posting any successess or failures in the future..