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Jump Start on Spring

There is no reason we can't be growing our own fresh greens through the winter right here. So on the days when its not too cold and snowy I've been putting together a new cold frame to get a jump start on spring growing.

I have picked out cold-germinating, frost tolerant seeds to plant as the idea is to create a micro-climate rather than a controlled climate. The plants need to tolerate a good amount of frost, because the night temperatures outside will still be going down to 10F or lower.

Species list:

Valerianella locusta - Mache
Spinacia oleracea - Spinach
Petroselinum crispum - Parsley
Brassica rapa nipposinica - Mizuna
Allium ampeloprasum porrum -Leek
Raphanus sativus -Daikon radish
Rumex acetosa - Sorrel
Cichorium intybus - Itialian dandelion

Some of the plants will be harvested as baby greens and others let grow to maturity. The leeks in particular need such a long growing season that the only way to have them here is to extend the season.

(Next to the new cold frame, you can see an old hoop frame that is reaching the end of its life.)

 Building a cold frame  Building a cold frame
 Building a cold frame  Building a cold frame

Ahead: Planting, designing an automatic venting system, and water.

Aaron's top 10 Permaculture plant resources.
Don in the permaculture group asked for some plant resources, so I put together this list of places that I get seeds and plants from. I'm sure there are more great resources out there and I'd love to know about them.


Garden Planet
Paonia, 719 2nd St. 527-3522
Our local source and amazing selection of soil amendments.
They carry seedlings of many permaculture plants grown by Wind Clearwater.

CSU extension seedling program:
Ft Collins
Best for bulk bare root trees/shrubs. Must buy in groups of 50.

University of Idaho Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research
Another good and inexpensive source of seedling trees/shrubs, these can be bought in groups of 5 and are not bare root.

Western Native Seed
Best source for seed of Colorado and regional native trees, shrubs grasses, wildflowers.
I consistently go to them for Yarrow, Purple Prairie Clover, drought tolerant lawn mixes.

Peaceful Vally Farm Supply
Huge variety of seeds and supplies.
I especially like their cover crop options and innoculants to ensure that nitrogen fixing plants fix as much as possible.

High Country Gardens
A little pricy and focused on ornamentals, but a great selection of regionally appropriate plants.
Their shipping methods are excellent.


Romence Gardens and Greenhouses
Not regional, but a broad selection of plants, though also focused on ornamentals.
They have the best plant shipping technique I have ever seen.

Oikos Tree Crops
Focused on interesting edible tree species and varieties.
Most of their plants are not regionally adapted and I was not happy with their shipping methods of live plants.
But, since they have rare and interesting stuff like Yellowhorn and Burr/gamble oak crosses I have ordered from them.
Suggest ordering from them only in the late winter when their plants are dormant.

Trees of Antiquity
Huge selection of heirloom fruit and nut trees.


Horizon Herbs
Nice selection of seeds, seems like they often have unusual things that I can't find other places.


I also grow Goji Berry seedlings and have them available for sale.
Jump start 2 - cold frames


I decided to try an experimental no-dig planting method for these cold frames: scatter the seeds on the ground and cover with a mix of compost and sand.





b_200_0_16777215_0___images_stories_blog_winter-greens-2_Video_27_0_00_02-11.jpgThen I installed some curved wires and reemay cloth for a second layer of protection using cloths pins to hold the cloth in place. The temp went down to 5° F in late Feb, and all the plants survived beautifully.

Sunny/warm days required venting of the cold frame and the reemay.



b_200_0_16777215_0___images_stories_blog_winter-greens-2_Video_31_0_00_09-20.jpgThe second cold frame got the same treatment.

By the beginning of April I stopped using the reemay in the second cold-frame because it is made of opaque plastic and heats up less. The glass cold-frame with insulation would over-heat so it needed to be vented daily. Leaving the reemay in place keep the cold loving greens from getting too much sun.




6 weeks later and we have been eating greens 3 meals a day!

A nice surprise was loads of dill that had self seeded from last year. They fill in the space and are providing light "over story" of shade as the days get hotter.





Happy greens, all hand-watered with rain water and snow melt caught in a barrel off the chicken coop.











Exploring Extending The Growing Season at CRMPI
Written by Mari   

In cool and cold areas the length of the growing season and the cold temperatures are the main challenge for growing things and supporting oneself. As a part of the search for cold climate permaculture strategies I came across to integrated greenhouse designs that seem to have a lot to offer to us in the cool climates. This is a little report from a trip to Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute's solar greenhouse workshop in Basalt, Colorado. There, during his thirty five years of living on the site, Jerome Osentowski the director at CRMPI, has overcome the challenges of his steep sloping land at 7200 ft above sea level with advanced integrated greenhouse designs as a feature in the overall system. They have stretched his climatic zones all the way to the subtropic - all year round, with no fossil fuels used.

Conventional greenhouse growers spend immense amounts of money and oil or natural gas to heat the greenhouses during winter whereas in Jerome's greenhouses the heating is powered ...Read more.

Garden conversion project permaculture style

In April we put together a little "permablitz" event to help a friend and a neighbor to transform his front yard into an edible exploration to sustainability and cutting food miles into food-steps.

The garden site before installation.

Getting started with growing your own food requires special attention, and often gardens and vegie patches located at the back corner of the yard tend to get forgotten or neglected. So, the closer to your daily living zone - Zone 1 - your garden is located, the more often you are likely to pass by, notice what's going on, what might need attention, and also enjoy watching and nibbling  on the bounty of green. ...Read more.

Living Rhythm Farm 

View of Mountains


Lettuce guild