Gardening Vivian | 04 Apr 2011 08:13 am

The Coldframe – The Garden’s Secret Weapon

August… summer is half gone and it is time now to think about the perennials, pansies, English daisies and myosotis that you want to bloom in your garden next summer. Here is where the coldframe comes in. For seed sowing the soil must be as carefully prepared as for seed pans in the greenhouse. Dig thoroughly, use liberal amounts of humus and some sand and rake the top fine and smooth. Sow the seed in shallow rows, label, cover and water. Keep the frame covered until germination starts. Shade.

When the seedlings are large enough to handle, trans-plant into flats or soil in the frame. Pansies, English daisies and forget-me-nots should be carried over winter in the frame, so space at least three inches apart. Perennials can be carried over winter in the frame also, or set out in the garden in early fall. Plants wintered in the frame need a light covering of hay during the severe winter months. Dry organic cow manure well dug in is one of the safest fertilizers, but any good one used sparingly will do.

Sow Vegetables This Month

August is the time a Northern garden can sneak in another crop. Now is the time to put in another crop of lettuce, snap beans, spinach, radishes and carrots. The carrots provide not only a fall crop, but a winter supply of fresh carrots that are far superior to stored ones. Al-low them to grow until frost. Then cover them with a six-inch mulch of leaves. Leave them in the ground and you will be able to dig fresh carrots as you need them all winter.

Head lettuce from your garden until almost Christmas can be yours, if you sow it late in August and transplant to a coldframe when large enough to handle comfortably. Protect with sash and a mat when more severe weather is due.

Strawberries and iris bulbs are easy to grow. They are rank feeders, so do not attempt to grow them in poor soil or in competition with hedge or tree roots. They also need full sunlight. Dig down at least eight inches and be as generous as you can with manure, humus, or both. Add bonemeal, too.

For August planting use pot-grown strawberries. Plant 15 inches apart in rows 18 inches apart. Let the rows grow solid, but keep a path between so the plants will not be trampled when you cultivate or harvest the fruit.

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