Back to Basics

The past few weeks have been in the 20’s at night and the next week is expected to be the same. Even so, the next two days (3/24-3/25) are good for starting above ground crops.

Here are a few ways to get a ‘jump start’ on your crops even if you don’t have a greenhouse.

Many crops can, not only be started, but grown in containers. This allows you the ability to start your crops early but bring them inside at night when weather isn’t warm enough.

Above ground crops with shallow roots can be planted in shallow pots. This reduces the amount of soil and the weight. However, that also means it can dry out more quickly so keep an eye on that.

Examples of shallow root crops include but are not limited to:

  • chives
  • green onions
  • peas
  • lettuce and most leafy greens
  • many herbs


If you have some scrap wood and either an old window or some plastic lying around, a cold frame can easily be set up. A cold frame can also be made of square hay or straw bales places together to form an opening in the center. Then an old window, glass patio door, or just a sheet of plastic thrown over top.


Most people these days go through some type of plastic bottles that are usually thrown away.

DON’T … Use them to help grow some food.

If temps are cold but not a hard freeze, remove the cap at the top. This allows extra heat to excape and not cause your plant to be cooked in an oven effect. If the nights are below freezing, it’s a good idea to double insulate. Using bottle like these makes it simple. Place the caps on the bottles then cover them with a frost cloth or light weight scrap fabric, even with a layer of straw, leaves, or saw dust. (Saw dust can effect the nitrogen levels of the soil so be aware when using a fast decomposing form of wood.

Be sure to remove the caps the next day so the plants can breath and can ventilation. Most plants don’t like being too moist or they will mold or contract a disease that will kill it.