Episode-776- Winter Gardening Projects

A Winter Homestead

Photo Credit to lawr88223

Now is the time to get going with your late fall and winter gardening projects and project planning.  Yesterday I went and got another load of compost from the city compost facility.

What I noticed is in the 55 degree weather doing so was a lot more enjoyable, it reinforced something I have always said, cool weather is best for your gardening projects.  So I figured today would be a good time to go over some fall/winter project ideas, including some I am currently working on and have planned.

Join me today as I discuss….

  • The greenhouse is going in this month
  • Why I am rethinking aquaponics
  • Time to trick or treat for organic matter
  • My concept for a seasonal zoned rabbit hutch
  • Cover cropping and pasture creation
  • Thoughts on compost heating systems
  • The rocket mass heated greenhouse
  • A true hidden/survival garden
  • Hugelkultur bed progress to date

Resources for Today’s Show

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17 Responses to Episode-776- Winter Gardening Projects

  1. read your email found your website very interesting it is needed now. it seem that the younger generation dont know much about survival and how to get along in bad times keep up the good work. regard huntsalone.

  2. Jack another good show. Glad to hear the greenhouse arrived. As far as orientation and light and your trees, if you don’t have to cut the trees to put the greenhouse in I suggest you wait on cutting them down. If they aren’t a hazard wait till they fill out next spring and see if you really want them gone. That poly refracts light and it will be much lighter than you think in the house. Same holds true for orientation and the sun. You will get plenty of light regardless of your orientation, even without the windows in the endwalls. You will end up having to go to shade cloth in the summer to protect the plants from burning. Also the fewer windows you have in the endwalls of these type of greenhouses the more shear strength the endwalls will have. If the amount of light is a concern paint the inside of the endwalls white.
    As far as heating goes your solid mass heating sounds like the best idea. If you can build it into a berm adjoining to the house you will have a great heat source. I have tried those small wood stoves and they don’t have enough mass to hold heat for much more than an hour. I was totally disappointed. I think I spent more on the pipe than the stove. One way to reduce your heat needs is to section the house from side to side. Drop a piece of cheap plastic from ceiling to floor on the second or third bow set. That way you are only heating the front of the house. This also gives you 2 heat zones. The area in the back of the house in my experience is about 10degrees cooler than the heated part of the house. Also remember to put a milk house heater with a cord running to the house as a backup to any other heat source just in case. You can set those down to 35 degrees and it will only come on as a last resort. Beats losing everything. Thanks for the plug and feel free to ask if you have any questions about the construction of the house or any general greenhouse tips.

  3. Awesome episode again with lots of info. I’m also looking into purchasing a greenhouse and a way to keep it warm during the winter since I’ll be moving to a new rental place soon with a tiny garden (about 600 square feet)

    For heating i’m hoping to build a rocket mass heater as well, mainly because they look easy and cheap to build. The other alternative I found would be a pelletstove, a bit more expensive, but they are fed automatically and can maintain a fairly even temperature for a couple days on one filling.

    As for aquaculture in stead of aquaponics… think you have a point there, but considering the tiny space I have available in my garden I think aquaponics suits me better.

  4. I’m interested to see how this works out, your climate isn’t that different than mine, a little warmer here.

    Last winter we moved several trees (white oak, holly, hickory, scrubby looking cedar, sweet gums, other oaks) from an area to plant some fruit trees, we’ll be adding various bushes and native trees, elderberry, persimmon, etc as it’ll fit. Asphalt drive is on the east, and more sun comes in from the south, full sun to filtered sun throughout the day. Sadly north facing slope. Lots of rocks, roots and years of leaf litter.

    We left the wild huckleberry bushes, some of the holly, a bunch of American beauty bushes, muscadines, dogwoods. Also left a smaller hickory in the middle, figure I can always find it to possibly copice for wood for smoking. It wasn’t creating much shade. Found a wild plum on the edge which the summer drought didn’t kill, gave it some water. I figured it was better to leave the shrub layer till I have something ready to replace it with, will keep many of the natural shrubs.

    A few places had big holes which years back someone had dug out large rocks for landscaping purposes and didn’t fill in. My husband was fussing about the holes, I told him to be happy, less I’ll want dug, filling them with twigs, rotting wood, shredded wood, leaves etc.

    Took much longer than we thought, we sadly removed several large white oak trees, couple hickory trees, other oaks, all sweet gums in the area along with small stuff.

    We didn’t get a chance to do more with the area this year other than plant 16 fruit trees (2 peach trees never took root), rest survived due to lots of mulch and water barrel with small holes in bottom next to each tree which we partially filled twice week. Don’t think we’d have gotten them in without my 20 year old son and a pickax.

    Couple things we’d have done differently.

    We should have found a portable sawmill before cutting any of the larger trees, I kept several, but couldn’t keep them all and get the light I needed. We found a guy who we could have hired but he likes working with freshly felled trees, not couple months later. We also should have turned a bunch of the white oak logs into mushroom logs.

    Before any more large trees are cut, I want to know what the wood is being used for, at cut it at the right time for that purpose. Sweet gums I don’t care if they’re cut, but the others, I hate to see them go.

    Dogwoods are happier with more sun and less crowding. In the woods where we didn’t water they all look dead from the severe drought, thinking I’d like some dogwood seedlings, while walking under one in my food forest area I see a bright red seed, several on the tree, will go back and collect seeds for seedlings.

    Glad we didn’t go in and dig up various beds right away, interesting to see what sprouted up on its own with more sunlight. Several sassafras trees are popping up, I wanted some of those anyway, some maypops, a couple echinacea, some variety of wild pea which I still need to identify, various wildflowers. The huckleberries had more fruit than year before when it was woods. And many baby oaks, sweet gums, hickories, etc.

    Don’t know how many native trees we lost to the drought yet, will know more next spring. Maybe nature is doing some thinning of the woods for us.

    With summer drought we didn’t get more planted, we tried a few herbs, ground nuts, etc but twice a week watering wasn’t enough to keep them alive. Funny how I was wishing for sassafras, know they grow in the county, but didn’t see any last year, then I find them popping up in my food forest area. Sad too hot to start echinacea, then I see a couple already growing where I didn’t see any the year before. I’d started passion flowers at home to take over there but didn’t due to drought, then I find native ones popping up in low areas near watered fruit trees. Now if I can just find persimmons and pawpaws.

    Any way if you clear some trees to let in sunlight for your food forest you may want to see what pops up naturally.

  5. Jack ever consider rocket mass heater for your home,I am on a dirt crawl space an you know my gears are just a turning right now. I was just thinking to use it as a secondary home heat source not sure how long I could make a pipe run and still heat the mass any thoughts. Brent

  6. Hey jack something to think about concerning your rabbits in the winter is to put them in your green house. The advantages are the rabbits can get warmed up during the day and in turn produce heat at night. If you have them on moveable pens you can fertilizer the whole green house. All you need to cover the top of pens to protect them from the sun. I am half way there myself. but I have to admit this is not my idea this what they do at Polyface farm by they have chickens also chicken in the same house, they do this for a better compost.

    • Modern Survival

      @joe interesting idea. I won’t have rabbits or chickens this winter but going forward both have promise.

  7. Using a heat sink in the greenhouse may be worth looking into also. I’ve also heard of using a small liner pond in the greenhouse you’d buy at home depot to keep it warm and even keeping your chickens inside for some warmth. here’s the heat sink from the book Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=7pZUQb66RBIC&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119&dq=self+sufficiency+for+the+21st+century+heating+a+greenhouse&source=bl&ots=FY_mF_JBwY&sig=H5wZihs3qO4i2EYaXTRpjgJCwGY&hl=en&ei=iNSxTqX4GYn0ggeCva3TAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CEkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

  8. Jack, I’ll be paying close attention to your greenhouse project. I’m at 6200 ft. in the Southern Utah mountains (zone 5-ish) and winter kicks ass here. This has me about 90% decided on plunking a rocket mass heater in the floor, also incorporating a chicken house. Both logistic and $$ constraints prohibit mine happening before spring but maybe that’s a good thing – I’ll have yours to study by then. Thanks for another great show (and the latest MSB goodies).

  9. Just wanted to add about pepper biology. When I lived in CA (Zone 10a, Sunset zone 19) I could sometimes over-winter my peppers outside. Yes, it’s true, they put on their best leaf growth and best pepper production in Sept-early November there. Sometimes it was more like October for peppers if Sept. was too hot. They are probably most correctly labeled a short-term perennial, however, as most people there concur that three years is about tops for peppers. You have my brain turning on how to replicate results here in zone 5b Colorado where winter is, ah, about the same as in Utah except that I am 1000 feet lower. I do, however, have a grow light system and am probably turning a room into a grow room. (no, not for anything illegal, just for veggies and possibly more tender stuff like citrus. Would love to have citrus again)

  10. Good show, enjoyed it. I agree with the ‘winter/fall’ is the time to do projects. I have some raised beds from last year that currently have fall crops in but have 6 more raised beds ready to double dig. Will wait till it cools off (Florida here)

  11. Over the years Ive seen several different ways to heat a green house here in NY.
    The cheapest was a green house against the south side of my friends house,she then made shelves against the wall and put flat black painted gal water jugs.They absorbed the heat during the day and released the heat at night.And since the green house was on the south side of her house,the north side of the green house was protected.Once in a while she had to put a kero heater in it to keep temp up.Usualy late January .
    The nicest heating system I ever saw was a free standing greenhouse that friends dug down a few inches,laid copper and pvc pipe covered with sand then blue stone..They ran water through the pipes that was heated by their wood stove in the house that they coiled copper pipe behind and touching the stove,you didnt really see it in the house.The hot water was then circulated with a little pump and I remember it had a pop off valve out side incase the water got to hot and so they could add water if needed.It was a very nice heat and the blue stone held the heat but never got to hot.I would think you could run the copper pipe through a rocket stove also.

  12. Ryan Lewellin

    Well, that explains my epic bell pepper fail of 2011. They didn’t do anything all year and then a week before the frost they start going nuts. All I ended up with is a handful of very small peppers.

    Right now I’m trying to get a 4 x 8 sheet of plastic to place over a raised bed with about six inches of clearance between the soil and the top of the wood to do some winter gardening. I had no clue plexiglass was so expensive and I’m ruling out glass due to the likelihood that my dogs will try to walk on it. Any suggestions on what kind of material to use to cover it? I want to find a bunch of baby food jars and spray paint them black and put them next to the rows as a thermal mass.

  13. Hi Jack,

    I love your shows, and really appreciate what you do for us. I do have some constructive criticism though, that might only be my opinion, but I think you will find others feel this way.

    The shows with advanced Paleo , Huggaggoogle, Perma stuff…. Yes, I did not bother to look up the spelling sorry spelling nazis. Heh. I find that when you get into advanced subjects on these topics I am lost, and or not really interested. I know you are passonite about these topics, but for average guy or gal at home I suggest keeping things simple. Keep to the basics with gardening. If we are interested in advanced things we can research it.

    I love your shows, just my 2 cents. Good Luck!

  14. I totally disagree with Glock22 if all your shows were simple and about basic stuff I would have got bored and stopped listening ages ago.

  15. I think Aquaponics is something that needs monitoring during the initial set up a cycling but once it is up and running and you have certain safeguards in place it can be left to it’s own devices for sensible periods of time.

    I was looking forward to following your journey into AP

  16. Your rabbit hutch needs wheels!!!!!! This is what I’ve done and now I have the option of moving the hutch wherever I wish. Also, there is a difference between a ‘permanent’ and a ‘grow-out’ hutch. A Permanent hutch needs to be solid. A grow-out hutch only needs to hold the rabbits for 3-4 weeks MAX! I use a hutch design that is essentially a frame to hold rabbit cages for grow-out. The permanent hutch hold 2 Does and a buck, the grow-out will hold 72inches of 30inch deep cage……This give maximum flexibility for me…….
    HTH! Love the ‘Cast thanks for all you do!

    Tom D.