Extending Your Growing Season and Getting Ready for Spring

Reader Contribution by Lindsay
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Christopher and Lindsay pose in front of their lasagna-style mulch garden bed, rabbit hutches, and newly built cold frame.

When it comes to gardening, and really all things in life, it’s good to plan ahead. I know it’s only January, but my husband, Chris, and I are already getting ready for our garden. Chris is always looking for ways to extend our growing season, and since we moved to Washington from Pocatello, it feels like we could pretty much grow things all year long with the right tools!

This year will be our first year gardening on our new homestead and we have been preparing for it since the day we moved here. We started last fall when we installed the first “leaf” of our lasagna-style mulch garden bed. The first thing that we did was lay down a layer of “clean” cardboard. Chris gets a lot of cardboard from his 9-5, so it was free! We took all of the tape and labels off, then laid it down in the shape of the bed that we wanted. Then we layered compost and straw, and viola! We have a key-hole, or “C” shaped garden bed that will supposedly be weed-free, and need much less watering than traditional garden beds.

Eventually we will be putting up borders for the bed, but that we’ll save for another day.

All winter long we have been letting our rabbits fertilize the bed, too! Rabbit pellets are known as a “cold” manure, so they don’t have to age or compost before going into the garden. Plus it’s mostly free! I say mostly because we still have to feed our rabbits, but we have them for meat and fiber, and we need to feed them anyways, so really, it’s just free.

On this, the first day of the new year, and one of the only days off that my husband will get for a while, we decided to take another step towards having produce in our garden; we built a cold frame. It’s kind of a mini greenhouse/cold frame, but whatever you want to call it, we built it today using materials that we got for free or cheap and it is awesome. The kids even helped.

Our children, aged 2 1/2 years and 18 months, love to help us with whatever we are doing! I am so excited for them to grow up here.

Cold frames are a great tool for any gardener. They can help you start your garden at least 4 to 6 weeks earlier, and they will help your garden last past the first frosts. Our weather has been super mild lately, and we are seeing buds on our trees, so my husband is getting excited for spring. Whenever he even thinks about having a garden this year, he gets so excited he can’t even talk! Chris even planted some cold hardy seeds under the cold frame after we finished it.

All in all, for our first garden here at Haven Homestead, it is really turning into something to be quite proud of!

For more info on how we built it, visit our blog at

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