Cold hard lessons of the cold frame

Cold frame, good. Fresh garden greens, radishes and green onions, good. Windy day and open cold frame, bad. The picture about sums it up. Don’t leave the cold frame propped open on a windy PEI day without securing it. Lesson learned.

We had finished most of the greens. They were starting to bolt. Picked out all the glass, cleaned out all the plants and more glass, removed the top and replanted. Now the cats think it is a lovely outdoor litter box just for them. Must reseed and find mesh for the top until the plants are up. Then I’ll start looking for a new window to fit the cold frame.

There’s always something to do.

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Shouldn’t it be called a warm frame?

The first greens of the season!

The cold frame works! Two weeks after we planted the first seeds, the mixed salad greens are up. We have had two snow storms, a couple of +15 Celsius days, and plenty of mornings with frost these past two weeks. The wooden box with the window on top is doing its job.

We planted radishes last weekend, and they are up, too. Gotta love those fast growing radishes. Fresh radishes are the surest sign that the garden is off to a good start. They are delicious, but even if you don’t care for radishes, plant them for the quick ego boost that something you sowed is growing.

It’s another great learning experience for the girls as well. They check the thermometer in the cold frame every day, and as soon as we are outside, they check to see what is growing. It makes us wonder why we didn’t try this sooner.

It also makes me wonder why it is called a cold frame when its purpose is to keep things warm. The girls pondered this question as well, and we agreed that the name cold frame is misleading. We put things in cold storage or an ice box to keep them cool, yet we plant seeds in cool weather in a cold frame to keep them warm. Ah, the intricacies of the English language.

Rather than make it more complicated than that, we are simply rejoicing that we have some signs of the renewal of life with the arrival of spring!

No foolin’, we planted today

Let's hope the green onions grow as well as these did in the garden last year.

Quick update on the cold frame: after snow, blizzards and other March weather, we planted lettuce, mixed greens and green onion seeds in the cold frame today. It was up to 25 degrees Celsius in there today, only about 7 or 8 outside, so it is functioning. Yay! I’ll add a photo from this year when we see some growth.

Our $4 cold frame

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Just finished installing our first attempt at a cold frame. We built it with left over wood, miscellaneous hardware, and a window we found covered in dust in a back corner of the basement that we used to call our Blair Witch room (it was just creepy). The only materials I had to buy were the four pieces of wood for the window frame that I paid $4 for at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Summerside. I couldn’t find four pieces that fit in all my other wood.

It is about 30 inches by 44 inches – almost nine square feet of inside space – 18 inches high at the back, about 11 at the front. It’s cold inside and outside the frame today. We’ll see how quickly the soil warms; we are eager to plant and get a jump on the season. I’ll post photos of our progress. With any luck, we’ll be eating fresh greens in a few weeks!