High Altitude Vegetables with Mini Cold Frames
Challenge - Short growing season and harsh climate of Sierra Nevada Mountains
Solution - Growers Supply Raised Beds and Mini Cold Frames
Size - Two 4'W x 2'9"H x 8'L
Application - Growing tomatoes, garlic and herbs
Location - Truckee, CA
We live along the Eastern crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is a challenging environment for the home gardener because of the poor soil, short growing season, cold nights and predation by deer. However, by using the raised bed kit and cold frames we bought from Growers Supply, we've been able to overcome those problems and produce tomatoes at 6,700' above sea level, much to the amazement of our neighbors.
The raised beds and cold frame kits were ordered separately, and when they arrived they were easy to assemble with very clear instructions. We used the clamps to attach the sheeting on the cold frame where the hoop turns downward. This makes a fixed 'roof' over the beds. The free ends of the plastic that drape to the ground are attached with cable ties to lengths of 1/2" plastic pipe. The weight of the plastic pipe keeps the sides down at night, and allows them to be easily lifted and folded over the top during the day. This simple method is enough to regulate the temperature inside the cold frame. Another advantage of this simple system is that when high winds arrive, the wind can move the sides rather than tearing them. We have had no freeze damage or damage done by deer since using the Growers Supply raised beds and cold frames.
We planted garlic along the outside edges of the raised beds to discourage voles and other rodents. Turns out, it wasn't necessary, but we do enjoy the garlic, and space-wise, it makes sense. We grow the tomatoes down the center, with garlic at the edges, and spices placed in between. Last year we included dill with the tomatoes. This year we are growing basil.
Thank you for making such easy-to-assemble kits!
Photos are used with permission and are copyright Jeff Cauhape (http://ringaroundbasin.com) 2009.