The Survival Garden: How To Start And What To Prep.

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by DirtDiva, Aug 30, 2021.

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  1. Max rigger

    Max rigger Master Survivalist
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    Christmas spuds are doing nicely, need to earth up soon. Lots of garlic to go in next.
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      I always put my garlic in the first of October. Been raining here for 3 days straight here and another day to go. Dug sweet potatoes before the rain moved in and picking figs between showers. Taking the day off to celebrate my birthday today. Temps are supposed to be in the 60's this week and leaves are starting to fall on select trees.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 20, 2021
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  2. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard ! Staff Member
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    Happy Birthday from your greatest fan. Your wonderful posts are really helping me out. As Spock would say, "Live Long and Prosper".
     
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  3. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    As far as learning how to garden for survival purposes I recomend that you grow the easy things that you like at first. I raised a lot of tomatoes, peppers and onions when I started. Over the years I had some HUGE gardens with corn, peas, beans and pretty much anything that you can imagine. I love cantalope and watermelons.

    In South East Texas gardening is a year around sort of thing. Some years I've had tomatoes until late January or Early February.
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      I do miss those long hot deep south growing seasons sometimes. You can really crank out the food in those type of climates. The only problem is the extreme heat at times and droughts depending on the location but you can get that anywhere just not as often I think.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 21, 2021
  4. Max rigger

    Max rigger Master Survivalist
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    Happy birthday Diva, thanks for the thread and I'll blow the froth off a couple in your honor tonight ;)
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      Thanks Max!
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 21, 2021
  5. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    What Is Companion Planting?
    Companion planting is a method of gardening where the gardener grows two plants together that mutually benefit each other. These plants may help each other gain more nitrogen, protect the garden from pests, or provide shade for plants that prefer to stay out of the sun. Companion plants don’t interfere with other plants’ growth and provide crucial biodiversity in the garden.

    The ways companion plant interactions may occur include:
    • Climate co-operation
    • Nurse cropping (bringing nutrients to the surface for young plants)
    • Trap cropping (decoy companions for pests)
    • Symbiotic nitrogen fixation
    • Natural pest repellant
    • Benevolent bug attraction
    • Biodiversity drives away pests with a specific diet
     
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  6. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    I do use some of these companion planting methods and will show you some examples.

    [​IMG]

    In the picture above there are two hilled rows of potatoes. The potatoes have started to die back but about the time they were blooming I came in between the rows and either side and planted purple hull peas. While the potatoes are sizing up beneath the soil the purple hulls will shade the potato rows keeping them cooler therefore resulting in larger potatoes, shading out weeds and because the peas are a legume pulling nitrogen from the air and fixing it in the soil. The added benefit is that it is doubling my harvest from the same area of soil. Once the peas are mature they will be harvested and then the potatoes dug.

    Companion planting at it's best.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
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  7. arctic bill

    arctic bill Master Survivalist
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    dirt diva,
    is this your real garden or one taken from the internet to illustrate a point ?
    Bill


     
    1. DirtDiva
      The pictures are all mine Bill and on my properties and gardens through the years! If I post a picture not mine I will mark it as so. In some pictures you will see a mark made through the photo this is to mask my farm logo or watermark for my own privacy.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 21, 2021
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  8. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Another example:

    Let's go back to those raised beds.

    [​IMG]

    Notice right behind the mailbox the planting of yellow marigolds next to summer squash plants. Marigolds not only a pollinator attractor but also a deterrent for some bad bugs.

    In the last bed to the far left are the tomatoes along the fence panels at the back of the bed. In front of the tomatoes to the front of the bed sweet peppers, basil, cabbage and garlic chives.

    The basil and garlic chives not only edible crops but also deterrents against pests common to tomatoes and cabbage.

    A study from Iowa State University on Companion planting

    https://www.farms.ag.iastate.edu/files/CompanionPlanting.pdf


    [​IMG]

    At the end of the bed a tub full of petunias for the bees and hummingbirds.

    [​IMG]

    And even more at the back fence of this area a planting of purpe hull peas planted on the fence and scattered in front of the peas 8 hills of okra. These are not only planted for their harvests but as a trap crop for stink bugs a particular visitor in my tomato crops.

    The purple hull peas and okra are a trap crop planted far away from the garden and the tomatoes. They attract the stink bugs and aphids far away from the garden and the tomatoes and at the outer perimeter of the area. There the infestation will be sprayed with Neem at regular intervals to control the population and reduce pest numbers to prevent them from detroying the tomato crop. I found 2 tomatoes in that whole garden with stink bug damage. That is pretty good.

    And from North Carolina A & T University Study
    https://www.scientia.global/cowpea-an-ancient-crop-for-modern-challenges/

    Again another positive example of making your crops do double duty.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
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  9. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard ! Staff Member
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    Outstanding post. I like the idea of plants doing double duty. I would never have thought of using plant to lure away pests or as a deterrent to pests. Thank you for you posts.
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      Strategies like this could be very important in a survival garden where pesticides are unavailable or in very short supply.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 21, 2021
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  10. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    All hail Dirt Diva!

    As the fame of Dirt Diva grows, crowds gather to get photos of her grand garden.

    [​IMG]
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 21, 2021
  11. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    Dirt Diva, don't give me that :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes: look! You are a rock star! And I am a goofy old man.
     
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  12. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    I'm a tired old gardener with a camera infatuation.
     
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  13. arctic bill

    arctic bill Master Survivalist
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    dirt diva , you are the man , very nice garden , mine is much more beer drinker that your.
    Bill
     
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  14. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Mustard as a Cover Crop and Fumigant

    Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
    https://www.sare.org/publications/m...nonlegume-cover-crops/brassicas-and-mustards/

     
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  15. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Blue Hubbard as a trap crop for squash vine borer and squash bugs
    University of Missouri
    https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2017/3/Trap_cropping/

     
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    1. Old Geezer
      I've had trouble with squash vine borer. Thnx for info.
       
      Old Geezer, Sep 22, 2021
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    2. DirtDiva
      Plant you a couple Hubbards in flower pots strategically placed. As they attract insects drop the pot in a garbage bag and spray the contents inside with a good dose of insecticide. Bugs gone. Dispose of the insides however you choose. I burn the plants after a couple weeks and recycle the soil around a fruit tree.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 23, 2021
  16. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
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  17. arctic bill

    arctic bill Master Survivalist
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  18. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Crop Rotation

    In my humble opinion the survival gardens in a SHTF scenario will not be large sweeping farms of row crops that are so common today. But rather a throwback to the Victory Gardens of WWII will be small gardens tucked behind fences and hedges in back yards and rural spaces across the US.

    [​IMG]

    I think survival gardens will have to be smaller for ease in upkeep and resources compared to maintain larger ones. Maybe going back to the days when gardening was done with a shovel and hoe and not the gas guzzling tillers and tractors of the modern era. I have already started picking up extra shovels, hoes, manure and potato forks and any gardening tools that I run across at yard sales in my area. They can be cleaned up and oiled and hung on a shed wall taking very little space and could be excellent trade goods in the future.

    We are already seeing shortages of seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and canning supplies to preserve the harvests. I think we can expect to see shortages in poly to cover those tunnels and other supplies that are biproducts of the oil industries. Birds nettings, synthetic row coverings and agricultural plastics will probably be the first to go.

    As a result of shortages I think the new mantra will have to be grow small and grow smart. More use of composts to combat fertilizer shortages. Animal manures from small flocks of backyard chickens, ducks and rabbits will be worth their weight in gold in the gardens. I also think that the use of more natural methods of disease prevention and control and also insect control will have to be utilized with the unavailability of alternatives. Trap crops and companion plantings are a good example.

    For me personally A use of more vertical gardening practices growing crops up instead of out to preserve space in the garden. Raised beds to reduce the need for tilling the soil. Tucking crops along fences and up trellises and poles. Container gardening to allow the possibility of growing crops on decks and tucked in among landscaping. More intense plantings closer together to make the most of garden real estate.

    I think perhaps the most challenging of tasks will be crop rotation.
    [​IMG]

    I can tell you right now I do not worry much about rotation. I do try to rotate some to help keep a certain pest like potato beetle from collecting in the soil in one particilar area. Other than that I am of the opinion in small gardens the pests will find what they want to eat when they want it and hiding it does not work.

    As far as fertility I am adding regular compost and fertility back to my soil with organic fertilizers so I do not think all the hooplah is necessary. I have gardened in garden spots for decades without a problem.

    I will leave you with a link and quote on the subject that I personally agree with and let you make your own decision but when I am gardening for my life and the life of my family I do not have time to fool around with the Author of the hour/flavor of the month in gardening.

    https://www.gardenmyths.com/crop-rotation-gardeners/

    Agriculture and gardening are very different, and crop rotation is unlikely to provide much of a benefit in most home gardens. It is also complex and depends very much on pest and disease identification, which is not common in gardens.

    It might make sense in special cases where you have identified a specific disease or pest and where a known rotation has been shown to work. The solution probably involves not growing the problem crop for a number of years because simple crop rotation without excluding the infected crop rarely works in a small area.

    Crop rotation might make a bit more sense in large gardens, such as market gardens, but even there the benefits are limited because most of these gardens grow all crops, every year.

    Most of the hype around this gardening technique is just that, hype. Use it if you know it will solve your problem, otherwise, don’t worry about it.
     
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  19. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    A Preppers Alternative

    Now that I have covered crop rotation here is how I do it! Tomatoes and potatoes and squash are my 3 bears as far as pests really. Tomatoes it is stink bugs and horn worms. Potatoes it is potato beetles and squash it is the squash bug and squash vine borer.

    I completely remove some crops out of my garden some years. I had a bumper crop of potatoes last year. I canned new potatoes enough for years, I dehydrated shredded potatoes and potato slices (enough for years) and we ate fresh potatoes galore. So this year I tucked a few potatoes in pots for fresh eating only and called it good. I still saw a few potato beetles around the garden but the ducks enjoyed them. I think next year I will again tuck some potatoes in pots for fresh eating and call it good. As my stores of canned and dehydrated potatoes diminish I will again grow a large crop of potatoes. And make no mistake I will still have a few potato beetles just not as many. In between years that I grow large amounts of potatoes this is how I grow potatoes for fresh use.



    Tomatoes
    Again I do grow tomatoes every year just not as many some years. This year I had a bumper crop of tomatoes. Last year I had a healthy crop of tomatoes as a result I canned tomato products both years. Sauce, paste, diced, rotel, salsa and dehydrated tomatoes for tomato powder. Enough tomatoes for several years. Next year I will grow a few tomatoes for slicers and a few plum tomato plants for salads and I will not concentrate on this crop for preservation. The use of trap crops greatly reduced stink bug damage and I never saw the first hornworm in my tomatoes all year.

    Squash
    Squash are a little different in that this year for the first time in several years I did not fight squash bugs. I also never lost a plant to squash vine borers. I did use several hubbard squash in a pot as a trap crop but even the Hubbard were bug free. I interplanted garlic chives and dill and rotated throughout the garden as a space opened up.

    So I guess my point is I preserve bumper crops and use that as an opportunity the next year to concentrate on a different crop that I maybe need more in my pantry and preps. My pantry and food preps dictate my rotation of vegetable crops and what I grow more than rotating for fertility or pest issues.

    By greatly reducing or eliminating those crops completely for a cycle or two may help keep my numbers down on targeted pests.
     
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  20. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Growing Sweet Potatoes

    My garden on the top of the Cumberland Plateau can be tricky at times because springs can be wet and very cool. Late season frosts are a common occurrence. I have started growing my sweet potatoes like this man and it has worked wonderfully for me. The black plastic allows me to warm the soil and and plant the potato slips sooner and the addition of lots of compost makes for a very loose soil that means a large harvest of larger potatoes sooner. A great way to grow them in cooler areas too because I can easily cover the wire ring with something to protect the young potato slips from frost.

     
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  21. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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  22. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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  23. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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  24. poltiregist

    poltiregist Legendary Survivalist
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    Through ongoing tests from cultivation , in preparation for the survival garden , taking into consideration space , productivity , and ease of storing have my five basic heirloom seeds that I have saved for the apocalypse . Small eating pumpkins " chosen for ease of storing and nutrition " , 2- Tomatoes , 3- Climbing string beans , 4- Bell sweet peppers " to add flavor and add vitamins to meat based dishes " and 5- eggplants . --- Presently am always searching and experimenting for other plants to add to my survival garden arsenal .
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      Wow if I had to pick 5 it would be 1. Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage 2. Tomatoes heirloom 3. Winter butternut squash which would be comparable to your small pumpkin 4. Horticulture Bean 5. Mustard greens or spinach
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 30, 2021
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  25. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Season Extenders

    Some have already asked on this thread if I garden under hoop houses and the answer is no. While I do own a large structural steel high hoop frame I do not use it. Will I in the future maybe. I have it along with the covering to go over it in my preps if I need it. It was moved from another property I owned further north where the growing seasons were shorter.

    While I don't know how to prepare for a world with no oil, I can very easily imagine one in which oil and it’s products are much more expensive/less available in the near future. It is possible to prepare for that reality. I do choose to use some petroleum products (e.g. greenhouse film) because they are presently available and inexpensive. However I like to
    operate on the philosophy of minimal cost and minimal intervention, while avoiding energy-intensive technology when possible.

    My reality is that I live in a climate presently where I can grow vegetables from March to about November comfortably most years. My asparagus usually starts producing about the end of March and with a simple cold frame can start greens about that same time. So my growing season is comfortably 7 to 8 months out of the year. I prep large amounts of staples. Wheat berries, rice, beans, oatmeal, etc and vegetable garden extensively for that 7 to 8 months preserving any and all that is not eaten fresh to fill in the gaps nutrition wise in those existing preps. With the addition of dried and canned fruits and nuts I should be able to maintain a healthy diet for 2 people for years to come.

    To be honest by November I need a rest. I am ready to curl up in front of the fire with a needle and thread and a quilt to finish or my knitting needles and enjoy my winter. By February or March most people are craving greens which is why I freeze bags of frozen mustard greens and can jars of canned spinach and mustard greens for early spring. I also posses the knowledge and ability to forage and prepare fresh greens in the forest and fields to fill that need.

    For that reason season extenders are just not a huge priority for me. I eat what is in season when it grows naturally. That being said I understand there are many not in that position so I will try to list common and inexpensive ways to help extend your seasons for those especially growing in colder climates.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021 at 12:38 PM
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  26. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Low Tunnels ( row covers)

    Row covers are thin rolls of flat material many gardeners refer to as fleece. This material can be used to protect plants from frost, protect crops from insects, shade crops such as lettuce which prefer cooler growing conditions to prevent bolting and extend harvest.

    When I do choose to use row covers I use wire hoops made from coils of 9-ga galvanized fence wire shaped in a simple U shape with a foot or so straight on each side to go in the soil. These are draped with covers of Remay or Agribon cloth. The cloth is held down by bricks. Usually about 30” wide and 16’ long. For full-size summer crops, you need longer lengths of wire for wider and taller rows. There are 3 - 4 different weights of fabric for different levels of cold protection. I use the lightest, which allows 85% light penetration, but doesn’t provide much frost protection; the heaviest one allows only 50% light transmission but better protects from frost.

    Low tunnels can be used in spring, summer or fall, for different reasons. In spring mode, use narrow beds (30” wide). Let tunnels warm up the soil before sowing, for a 3 - 4 week jump on seed germination; then plant across the width. Pull back cover on warm day. When the plants get going, pull the hoops and let them grow. For insect control, use a very thin fabric made specifically to keep out bugs and birds; leave on throughout the season. Very effective.

    My fabric of choice that I keep on hand is this one linked below. 83 inches wide it fits easily over my beds in early spring to protect from those unexpected late frosts. Lets in 85% of the light and protects to 28 degrees farenheit.

    https://www.johnnyseeds.com/tools-supplies/row-covers-and-accessories/agribon+-ag-19-83"-x-250-row-cover-9053.html?cgid=row-covers-and-accessories#start=19&sz=18

    I will make clear that I rarely use row covers and the reason for that is that I live on top of a plateau and can have very windy conditions. Row covers do not hold up very well to high wind therefore for me are not the best choice. But they may work for many of you. If omeone has more experience with them please feel free to share opinions, tricks or advice.

    WHy not plastic or visqueen you may wonder because it gets too hot underneath and is too hard to vent that heat out. Water will not go through sufficiently so you will either have to use a soaker hose or drip irrigation or remove to water and then recover.

    [​IMG]

    Notation this photo is from the captain planet foundation and is not my garden
     
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    1. TMT Tactical
      More outstanding info for us black thumb preppers. Thank you for your time and knowledge.
       
      TMT Tactical, Oct 14, 2021 at 3:59 PM
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  27. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Cold Frames

    My season extenders of choice are cold frames. Just a simple wooden frame with a hinged top and plastic lid. A quick little patch of early lettuce can be planted to beat that last late frost or a place to tuck in a few trays of seeds. The great thing about cold frames is they can be made inexpensively and can be permanent or mobile depending on your needs or space. Mine shown below is actually movable with handles on the sides.

    [​IMG]

    This is my cold frame of choice pictured above. I don't think these require much explanation. i will throw out the tidbit that it was once common practice to heat cold frames with rotting manure compost in the bottom for warmth. Just an idea to tuck away for a rainy day. There are lots of cold frame pictures on the net so I will just post a few of my favorites for you. (Not my pictures or my gardens!)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  28. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    I will leave you with that for the day. On this subject I will post on high tunnel houses and some seed starting early to extend harvests tomorrow.
     
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  29. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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  30. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Suggested Reading

    The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses Paperback – April 1, 2009
    by Eliot Coleman (Author)
     
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  31. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    I wanted to also make a point for those of you with young children or pets I would seriously hesitate putting glass on top of cold frames. Many people use recycled old windows which is a great idea BUT..... my neighbor had a dog cut it's leg off chasing a cat over the top of a cold frame with a glass top and going through the glass. Just a thought......
     
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