Homesteading Dreams – Building Cold Frames

Here at Gillis Gardens, we have dreams. Some of them are in laborious progress, such as our production kitchen and rainbow flock of egg laying chickens… others are probably unattainable for years yet(my personal favs being a greenhouse within a wallpini for tropical growing or getting into aquaponics and farming our own tilipia) but we have a lot of them.

We believe in that itself. Having dreams, goals… things that you reach for past what you have or know now. None of ours have to do with being rich, or gaining fame. It’s more about pushing our own limits at what we thought we could accomplish between us and our drive. Maybe that can be a blog for another time. Today we are talking about realizing a dream of ours that we’ve had for some time.

Building Cold Frames.

I know, quite the lofty goal there, but cold frames are important for homesteading for a big reason- it is going to extend our planting season by a few months.

From the renovation on the shed, we have a lot of of old windows, random hardware junk and different sized pieces of wood. What better use for all that stuff, then to pair it with some hay bales and bags of dirt to create THIS:

This is just the first one that we threw together real quick. We put the bales up on their sides, layered some hay in so that there was more insulation between our dirt and the cold ground and put a bag of dirt in. Then mrgillis slit the plastic and lined the sides of the hay bales with the extra. Next, he got fancy and put hinges on the windows for easy open access.

But one cold frame wasn’t good enough. We had a truck full of bales and a “malt beverage” into both of us, and it was almost 70 degrees out in April in Maine. This deserved some celebrating and some work. So we rearranged the bales and ended up with three cold frames.

Mrgillis made a neat brace for the windows too. He’s just that thoughtful. Meanwhile, Izzy and I played.

The Next day, it was up in the 60s again, so we planted salad greens and micro greens, because if it works, eff yeah we have fresh produce in our front yard. And if it doesn’t well it wont be long and it will.


So, to cap it off, we spent about 20 bucks on hay, reused a bunch of old windows and hardware instead of trashing them and have the ability to start growing outside about 5 to 6 weeks earlier then in years past… it also will extend our harvest capabilities well into the fall. It was a quick project and gave us a good reason to be out enjoying the fresh air and beautiful Maine spring day.

In fact, it was so quick and easy that MrGIllis is ready to go get another truckload of bales and make 3 more. I’ll post an update as spring moves along.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Update for 04/23/17-


We have 4 cold frames and SPROUTS! Yea!

Update for May 7th 2017

The coldframes are  a rousing success! We have lots of tomatoes, peppers, squash, marigolds, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, leafy greens all sprouting and growing OUTSIDE in MAINE in early friggen MAY.

We are so excited about the possibilities that these cold frames open up for growing fresh food out of season.

Have a wicked good day!

Update 05-29-17 – cold frames are a definite, long lasting success! We have tomatoes and peppers, cukes, pumpkins and a mini salad garden that we’ve been harvesting from for weeks now…. and they are all cold hardened already!

This has been a great first foray into lengthening our grow season, and we’re excited to do this for many years to come. It was great not having to transform a room or closet into a plant nursery for once…. Still lots more to go tho, so until then, have a wicked good day!

Exciting news on the homestead! 

Yesterday, we placed an order with Hoover’s Hatcheries for 15, day old chicks to be shipped to us the week of March 13th!  We are very excited, because CHICKENS and FREE SHIPPING! Our entire order of 15 female chicks, with Mareks vaccinations for all, was 65 bucks and change!

And free shipping! Like, we really cannot get over that… Other hatcheries that sell to Maine charge upwards of $60 for just shipping. And the prices for the chicks are only a bit more. Totally worth it (though, on a side note, the other hatcheries I looked at, Meyer’s  and Murray McMurray, have excellent prices on meat birds, and even with the shipping,so we’ll probably be going with one of those places… I mean check out this Fry Pan Bargain .)

This gives us two weeks to get a brooder set up, and supplies regathered.

So the lowdown on our new chicken breeds-

We are getting a speckled Sussex, a couple Polish, a couple new Amercuanas, an Asian blue, an Amberlink, a golden laced Wyandotte, a Welsummer, a Favorelle, and 4 hatchery choice rare breeds, which could be Silkies or Cochins or Buckeyes, anything considered a rare breed, really… depends on the hatch yield for that day. I couldn’t really make up my mind so I figured hopefully they’ll send me different breeds then what I ordered, and make sure they are cold hardy…. seeing as how they know they are shipping to Maine.

AND the other super exciting news for now, we ordered our seeds from Johnny’s Select Seeds, a Maine company that we really love and feel good supporting with our hard earned dollars. Included in that order, but not limited to- popcorn seed, beets, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, peas, carrots, peppers and STRAWBERRIES. We got one hundred bare root Honeoye plants, one hundred bare root Sparkle plants and 1000 Alexandria seeds. We’ll be receiving the seeds this month, but the Roots won’t be here until may 17th or so. But that just gives us time to amend the soil to their needs! This is going to be an amazing spring.

Otherwise, its off to the daily rigamarole of housework and making pizza for supper.

Until next time, have a wicked good night!

Dill Seed Collection

Dill is an amazingly fragrant, tasty herb that grows prolifically in a lot of different climates. It grows fast and is used in different stages of life for different things. When its just sprouting, baby dill is prized for the taste it lends to crispy dilly beans or pickles. When its mature and has gone to seed its useful as a cooking spice or to use as seed to grow next years harvest.

Dill is super easy to harvest for seed too. all you need is a mature dill plant, scissors, some string and a paper bag.

Boom – mature dill, that because of the beautiful Fall weather we had, is actually sprouting more flowers.

 

Flowering dill always kinda reminds me of fire works.

With this plant I’ll only be cutting off the stems with the mature seeds.

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Once the seeded flower heads are gathered, tie them into a bouquet and put them seed side down in your paper bag.

Tie your paper bag shut with the stems sticking out a little, giving you a little handle.

Now your ready to shake, rattle and roll- literally! The seeds, as long as they are ready, should come off pretty easily as long as you are pretty vigorous in your shaking, and rolling of the bag, either on the counter or between your hands. Just don’t be so excited that you bust your bag.

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After your seeds have been shaken loose of the stems, its time to store them until next seasons planting or for use as a spice.

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Yeah- that’s just one of the rubbermaid containers. I label the top with the seed and year and done. Use within a year.

Until another day, have a wicked one, right.