Cold Frame or Hotbed – Extend Your Growing Season With a Simple Structure

Cold frames (or hotbeds) are simple structures that have two main purposes, to act like miniature greenhouses to trap radiant heat and to provide protection and insulation from the elements. Cold frames traditionally have a sloped top that is positioned for maximum sun exposure, lift off or slide open sash (lids), insulated side walls that sit on the soil surface or are excavated below ground. Cold frames and hotbeds differ only in that one is heated and the other isn’t. Both types are useful in the garden — particularly from fall through spring to protect plants during cold or stormy weather. They are handy for extending the growing season and to provide a warm, sheltered area to ripen tomatoes longer into the fall or winter, to start cool weather crops (lettuce and leafy greens, radish, peas, cabbage, and more) earlier, or in some locations to overwinter forced bulbs, root vegetables,

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Beyond Marigolds – Growing Seeds Part 2

Once easy-to-grow seeds such as marigolds are mastered, it is time to tackle plants that are a little more challenging.

Starting seeds is an extremely rewarding activity and even trying to germinate some of the challenging seeds can be very successful if a little research is done to find out which techniques should be used.

If certain basic conditions are met, most annual and vegetable seeds do not require special treatment to achieve a high percentage of germination. The seed, which must be viable and mature, needs a proper balance of environmental conditions (moisture, temperature, light and air). Some more challenging seeds have natural inhibitors to germination and require special treatment. Such inhibitors include: a small dust-like size; a hard moisture-proof seed coat; a reluctance to germinate until maturity; a chemical that must be leached away; or specific requirements of light or darkness. These seeds may seem like they

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Sowing Seeds

Spring seems to arrive a little sooner when gardeners start their own plants indoors. Starting plants from seed is a very rewarding activity and there are many locations throughout the house suitable for starting seeds. The two critical factors are the amount of light and the soil temperature. Generally, a consistent temperature near 75 degrees F. (21-24 degrees Celsius) is ideal. This can be achieved on top of the refrigerator or on a heating pad. For adequate light consider the area under cupboards with fluorescent lights, a window sill, or on the floor of a solarium.

The first leaves of seedlings emerging

When should annual flower seeds be sown? Sowing dates are a little flexible because many factors have an influence on a seedlings rate of growth. These include light levels, day and night temperatures, fertilizer application, soil type, timing of transplanting, moisture levels, and seed age. The best

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