After Ivie, my dear friend told me about the amazing success she was having with her winter gardening system, I drove straight to her house to purchase one from her, went home and set half of it up, and then begged her to write down her experience to share with my wonderful readers. Ivie agreed! Here is her experience:
While waiting and saving for ten years to buy our first house, I dreamed and researched about edible landscaping. I decided I would only plant edible things and I would plant just as much as I possibly could fit into my yard. When we finally purchased our home on a 1/3 acre lot, the first thing I did is plant a giant raspberry patch and a peach tree. I now have 9 fruit trees, 9 blueberry plants, and my raspberry patch can produce between two and three gallons of raspberries a week. Sadly, this is the first year since then that I will not be able to plant a fruit tree as I have run out of space!
I also planted a huge garden. I love to garden. When the end of the season comes, yes, I am ready for a little break in canning but after a few weeks, I miss it. A few years ago my husband and I built a little pvc greenhouse and I planted a patch of spinach in it. I had the worst time every time a bad windstorm would come through. I tried anchoring it into a grow box, putting it over rebar and everything I could think of. The spinach actually didn’t die, but it didn’t grow either.
So I dreamed of having a real greenhouse. Last year my husband and father in law built me one! I planted my tomatoes early and I did have a great crop!
Then in the fall, I couldn’t get the idea of low tunnels out of my head. So I bought a pole bender, and gathered the materials and thanks to an Indian summer, I built and planted in them. WOW, was I surprised at the result. I planted the same things inside my passive solar greenhouse at the same time. Everything in my greenhouse lived, but didn’t really grow. But my low tunnels, grew in the coldest part of the winter.
I harvested my greens many times.
Inside the tunnels my dirt looks like a worm farm. I think every worm from a mile around found the warm environment of my tunnels. My dirt has never looked so good and I have enjoyed my own greens all winter.
I didn’t have to water them. I didn’t have to fetch them in the wind. I didn’t have to do anything but harvest greens! It was so fun. I feel like I have taken gardening to a whole new level and am maximizing space like never before.
When Kim, my friend and neighbor, expressed interest in my tunnels, we built them at her house. Then together, we decided that these were something everyone needed in their backyards. To make it easy, we assembled kits that contained everything needed to build and grow one. Along the way we have made improvements to the initial ones I built in my yard. We have enjoyed watching other people become more self sufficient and love the teaching opportunities this journey has brought.
Kim and I have made a goal to help everyone who loves to garden learn year round gardening. Having greens all year is so easy with the help of a low tunnel greenhouse. They are affordable, easy to set up and take down, require very little watering and really require very little attention at all. Use them to start an early spring garden and protect plants from frost, or plant in September and harvest greens all winter.
They are much more productive than a larger greenhouse, and can be fitted to any backyard. We can fit them for any grow box, or established garden. If you are looking to build to be more self sufficient or to be more prepared for whatever events the future may bring, this is a great tool. Kits run $60-160 and you can find and request more information on our Facebook Page.
After my fifth baby, I have a separation in my pelvis that resulted in my being in a wheel chair for a few weeks and for more that a year afterwards I wondered if I would really be able to use a shovel again. I wondered if I would ever run or hike again. Now, eighteen months later, I have healed, and I rarely feel the effects of that experience. I am grateful for a strong healthy body and want to feed it well. As I walk out to harvest organic greens that have grown like magic with so little effort, I am grateful for this amazing gift!
Ivie Cook Dotson was born in Alaska and has lived in several states including Texas, Michigan, Montana, California and Utah. She loves being a wife and mother of 5, loves ethnic cooking, natural medicine, and gardening. She comes from a long line of gardeners and farmers on her mother’s side, so gardening is in her blood!
Don’t forget to “Like” Ivie & Kim’s Facebook Page!