CO-Horts Blog

Friday, December 19, 2014

Community Garden Success With Season Extending Techniques

Posted by Linda McMulkin, CSU Extension-Pueblo County, with input from Colorado Master Gardeners and Miracle Community Garden members Cindy Rains, Deric Stowell, and Rhonda Sierra.  Photos by Deric and Rhonda.

In 2013, with help from community and church members of the Milagro Christian Church, the Miracle Community Garden was developed into a productive community resource.  In 2014 the garden was expanded and currently contains 24 beds ranging from 4’ x 4’ to 4’ x 12”.  The gardeners donate extra produce to the local Care and Share Food Bank, with community gardener, Deric,  reporting that he delivered over 500 pounds of food on behalf of the garden in 2014.
Above: straw bale cold frame built around a 4' x 4' hot bed. 
Below:  Season Extending structures participants install
hoops on a bed that is currently home to a thriving  winter crop.
                On September 6, 2014, CSU Extension-Pueblo County held a Season Extending gardening class at the Miracle Community Garden. Participants built a wooden bed  and installed the hardware needed for hoops, built cold frames with straw bales and concrete blocks, and bent conduit for covers for different sized beds.  They also learned how to build a hot bed by burying fresh manure  under the garden soil and then constructing a cold frame around the bed.
            After the class, most of the materials were donated to the community garden.  The gardeners have put the new materials to good use.  The new wooden bed was installed in its winter location along the south wall of the church (to the right of the door in the photo above).  Hoops were installed and used for shade cloth while greens and root crops germinated in the heat of September.  By October, nighttime protection in the form of clear plastic was added.  And while the crops were doing very well with limited protection in October, the community gardeners prepared for the cold weather to come.  Tarps were purchased and Christmas lights were installed to protect the young crops.
Photos taken the day after the nighttime temperature reached -9
degrees on November 11, 2014.
          On November 10, the weather forecast predicted snow and below zero temperatures that would last for several days. Even with the covers, lights and south facing location, the community gardeners were unsure that the crops would survive. But the lettuce and other greens not only survived the negative 9 degree nights but were thriving on November 15!  Community gardener, Cindy, said that she harvested greens on Thanksgiving Day and thinned the thriving carrots that weekend.

         In mid-December, the community gardeners report that their crops continue to thrive, providing fresh salads for members of the garden and the Milagro Christian Church. 


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