The above image shows the southern-most corner of our garden in August 2007. As you can see our giant sunflowers were in their finest blossoms last August, attended daily by bees and birds from sunup to sundown.
The equinox is still six weeks away, and those months will be cold for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Don’t let the lingering cold months fool you: now is the time to begin planning your spring, summer, and autumn plantings, and to begin seedlings for tomatoes and peppers indoors. (If the soil is soft enough, this can also be a great time to prep soil with compost or wood ash, and pull out stubborn root balls.)
My garden in Chester County, Pennsylvania will soon see enough warmth to begin germinating seeds in the cold frame. Once that happens, I’ll be sowing carrots, radishes, cilantro (coriander) lettuce, spinach, onions, and a few others. I like to select vegetables that are easy to grow, and that suit our tastes and cooking habits.
Fortunately we have a major arugula patch thanks to its wonderful proliferative qualities, so I won’t need to grow any in the cold frame. The arugula and sorrel have been happy to overwinter in the main garden. As you can see in these pictures, the cold freezes and snows wilt and kill the outer leaves, while the center of the plant remains vibrant and alive. As soon as things warm up the plants will grow a fresh set of small leaves, and voilà – fresh salad!
With any extra room in my cold frame, I may see how early I can get jalapeños to start from seed. I’ve been told that the cold spring months are the perfect time to grow a “salsa garden.” I promise delicious salsa images and ideas here at AppleJade this summer.
If you want to get started with a cold frame this season, but don’t have the time or means to build one, here are a few places to get you started:
To learn more about using (and building) cold frames I recommend you explore the book Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. Once I get started with planting my cold frame, I’ll be sharing step-by-step pictures at AppleJade with ideas for your own gardens. Have a question, idea, or suggestion? Leave me a comment, or contact me!