Riverdale Meadow Community Garden



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A virtual tour of

Season Extension Techniques and ColdFrames: 2007 and prior


Notice: All photos on this website are protected by copyright laws. This intellectual property is for viewing purposes on this website only. Do not lift or copy any images or text without first receiving written permission.


March 2006
Eleanor, a donor to the garden, gets a sampling tour from a variety of ColdFrames
as a small thank you for her kind and thoughtful generosity.

These leafy greens were planted in Sept 2005, and sheltered to grow slowly through the winter.

photo by Colin Grant, The Voice

Ground-Level Frames:


18 September 2006
Community Garden Leaders get a tour of
ColdFrames planted with this winter's food

Riverdale Meadow Community Garden hosts tours for groups to demonstrate the practices of using vegetable garden space all year round.

These coordinators, from other Toronto community gardens, are learning how to develop their own varieties of ColdFrames for the coming winter.

ColdFrames are simple structures, using plastic or plexiglass to extend the growing season into the fall for heat-loving plants, to shelter leafy greens such as spinach, sorrel, lettuces, kale, and mache, for harvesting through the winter, and to start cool-weather crops early.

Everyone at Riverdale Meadow CG builds their own frames, using recycled, shatter-resistant, organic-friendly materials wherever possible. (That, for us, means no glass and no painted structures.)

ColdFrames can be used to start foods early in the spring, to help heat-loving plants grow later into the fall, and to grow leafy greens for harvesting right through the winter.

photo by J M


5 February 2007
Temperature -39C, with wind chill

Five months later, same ColdFrames
wistful for warmth, hoping to harvest on a balmy day soon

photo by Kyla Dixon-Muir


5 February 2007
-39C with windchill

Mache (aka 'corn salad', a variety of lettuce) on a sub-zero day. Daring to open the frame, I see a frosty, brittle, view; the greens seem shrunken, huddled to the ground.

photo by Kyla Dixon-Muir


1 March 2007
"In like a Lion"

This same winter, a month later again. The snow has reached the full height of the frames, surrounding them with nature's insulation. Greens are protected from the weight and wet of the snow and freezing rains. A month or so from now, the picture should be so very different: snow should be largely gone, and greens should quickly resume growing.

This is demonstrated in the top photo on this page: showing the resulting growth in the previous winter's ColdFrames.
photo by Kyla Dixon-Muir


12 March 2007

Less than two weeks later, under relatively mild temperatures.
Heat captured within ColdFrames spreads to surrounding soil. With the temperature above freezing for a few days - now that we've reached mid-March and the sun is showing some strength - the captured heat has moderated the temperatures not only inside the boxes, but has also radiated into the ground surrounding them.

photo by Kyla Dixon-Muir


28 March 2007
"Out Like A Lamb"

Delectable Dinner Greens:
What a difference sixteen days makes in this season! Snow surrounding ColdFrames has melted, and with a temperature reaching +18C in recent days, the mache (lettuce) has begun growing again and can be harvested. All around, the ground in other plots is bare and grass in the meadow is still dormant.

photo by Jonathan Colpitts


28 March 2007
Planting Peas in Solarized Soil

The season-extension cycle begins anew:
As we harvesting more greens planted last fall, we also begin a new season's growth.
These peas, planted as seeds (scattered between the boards), will eventually develop significantly stronger root systems than any tender seedlings purchased and transplanted into the soil a month or two from now. In years past, peas planted in ColdFrames also yielded a much greater and earlier harvest.

As a cool-season crop, peas are one of the earliest vegetables to start directly in the garden's soil. With careful planning, the same space can be used to plant two more, different, warmer-season crops once the peas have finished, and then a fourth for growing through the winter.

photo by Kyla Dixon-Muir


28 March 2007
Peas Under Cover

Since frost is still likely, even though the temperature was +18C when these were planted, and the soil had been solarized, the pea seeds need to be covered and protected from many elements. These wire cage covers (right, front) will shelter them until they grow to around 5" tall, if necessary, which will take a good number of weeks at least.
photo by Kyla Dixon-Muir


Above-Ground Frame (A "Tall Raised Bed"):

Sept 2006: A Raised Bed

Used as ColdFrame in winter, this 7' x 3' x 3' large Raised Bed doubles as vertical planter through summer (for sprawling plants like squash).

photo by James Kuhns, President,
American Community Gardening Association


Arugula at far end, Vert de Cambrai Mache just sprouting in foreground.

Peeking inside the same Raised Bed, same day, recently planted. Note peat pots on plants in foreground, as these plants were started elsewhere while the hot season crop finished, then these seedlings were transplanted in for cold season growing.
photo by James Kuhns,
President, ACGA


Brave Rusty Tin Men Guard The Greens

Raised Bed, cleared of its snowy mantle, on a frigid afternoon in February 2007

photo by Kyla Dixon-Muir


The garden's Development Coordinator, Kyla Dixon-Muir, opens her Raised Bed
5 February 2007
-39C with windchill.

photo by Shemele, helpful CALC student


12 March 2007: Above Zero Temperatures

Daytime temperature has been moderate for a few days, and reached 7C today. As the temperature is forecast to remain above zero this week, this is a good time to water the Raised Bed.
Ground-level beds absorb sufficient water from the surrounding soil; but, due both to gravity and to the sun's warming effect on an above-ground box, a Raised Bed requires much different watering strategies.

photo by Kyla Dixon-Muir


Notice: All photos on this website are protected by copyright laws. This intellectual property is for viewing purposes on this website only. Do not lift or copy any images or text without first receiving written permission.


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