Mar 13, 2011

Planting when you live in Kansas

Most of us get that "itch" to plant something when the weather is nice and sunny.  I'd like to be one of those fair-weather gardeners, but I am trying to make the most of the shorter growing season here in Kansas, so it requires a little more planning and help from a local nursery.  I got a nice 5 pack of broccoli and lettuce at Johnson's, and decided to plant last weekend on a cold, overcast day.  What was I thinking?  Oh yeah, I was thinking I would like to get some edible produce soon!  So, first things first, I have to clean out my garden beds!
Looks awful, right?  However, the logs/branches are there on purpose to hold down the chicken wire.  The chicken wire is there to keep outdoor cats from using my garden as their own personal bathroom. And the leaves...the leaves... well, it's windy here!  Stuff blows in. 
Here's my garden after a little clean up.  I moved the dirt around and planted my little plants.  I was very excited to find some earthworms had moved into the garden, but I didn't snap any pics, because... Well, I am new to this whole blogging thing. And maybe you wouldn't be as excited about worms as I am.   

Now, to protect my plants from the still-below-freezing nights, a sun box is necessary.  I picked up this window for $7 at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Then, my wonderful husband built some simple square frames.  (The beauty of these being separate is that I can move and arrange this by myself.)  Next, I stacked the frames around the plants I want to protect.
Because I stack the frame on the bed at an angle, to take advantage of the sun, there is a gap on the left side of the frame.  I used some styrofoam to cover this gap.  It worked perfectly!  Last year I had small wood blocks, and they did not work as well as this seal I made.  
Then I stacked the next frame, and added the window.  It sits in perfectly, but because the window and/or frame are imperfect, there is another small gap I had to cover with styrofoam.  
Above is the gap.  It would let out a lot of hot air, which defeats the point of creating a sun box!!  All of this styrofoam is just leftover packaging that I stored away this winter.  Look around, and see what you can find, if you have a gap to fill.  Last year I used a rolled up t-shirt to fill this top gap.  But, this works so much better!  
Finally, here is a picture of my completed sunbox, with happy plants inside!
The above idea is from Mel Bartholomew's book, Square Foot Gardening. 


  1. I sooo admire your dedication!! I was thrilled to move from CO-an even shorter growing season, but still mostly stick to blooming varieties that do not produce fruit.
    My husband started some Thai peppers inside and some are ready to go out. Let me know if you'd like one!!

  2. Oh wow, this is awesome! I would totally copy everything you are doing step-by-step if we weren't moving :( For now, I will just admire your purty plants and gain some knowledge too it looks like - good work!