Cold Frame Countdown

Summer is nearly here, and the cold frames are at maximum production:

Working Cold Frames, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

We’ve built three cold frames so far this year.  The first was built and sown in February with radishes, lettuce, onions, and carrots.  The second two were constructed in April, and were sown at the new moon with a) corn and sunflowers; b) spinach, arugula, cilantro, snap peas, and marjoram.

First Cold Frame: Radish Cornucopia, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

I’ve learned to incorporate radishes into more dishes than I ever imagined possible – nothing like a healthy radish surplus to help you get creative.  The spinach and arugula are now vigorous enough that I can pick leaves each day and they are replenished by the following evening.  The lettuce seems a little slow-moving, but that doesn’t worry me: there’s plenty more on the way!  Now that the cold frames are built, we will have a leg-up for winter and spring.  I’ll begin planting them around August to secure fresh vegetables long past the typical growing months.

Spinach and Arugula Cold Frame, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

Another added benefit of cold frames: they are bunny and deer proof (unless, of course, you have some REALLY determined bunnies).  I’ve been keeping the corn-and-sunflowers cold frame closed most days and all nights to keep things really warm for vigorous growth; the other two cold frames have been spending all days open, and temperate nights too.  This is important because keeping them too warm would cause the spinach, radishes, arugula, cilantro, and others to “bolt” to flowers.

Corn and Sunflowers Cold Frame, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

As you can see in these images, our sunflowers are just about ready for transplanting, and the corn will definitely be “knee-high by the fourth of July”.  In fact, these pictures were taken a week ago, and today everything has doubled from what’s shown here.  While it’s true that corn is one of many vegetables which does best when direct-sown, I chose this approach to help the plants along until the ground warms enough for planting.  The plan for the corn is two-fold: some of them will relocate to a new west-facing garden area currently being prepped, and others will be tested with the three sisters method when I plant the pumpkins and melons.

Sunflowers and Corn Sprouts, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

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Spring Plant Starts

Spring Plant Starts, © Copyright 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

A quick peek ahead at what’s to come at AppleJade: here you can see my plant starts enjoying a little sunshine outdoors thanks to this nice, warm weekend. Not pictured here are the cold frames under construction. I am preparing some step-by-step instructions to help you build your own. More soon!

Cold Frame Winter Veggies

Cold Frame Lettuce, © Copyright 2008 Jade Leone BlackwaterOur cold frame continues to provide us with fresh greens.  Recently we finished the last of the summer carrots with a carrot cake (more to follow in a post about carrot cake).  Since removing the carrots and their large tops, lettuce and cilantro have thrived with added light and breathing space.  [Remember you can click on pictures to enlarge them].

Cold Frame Lettuce, © Copyright 2008 Jade Leone BlackwaterThe pictures you see with the lid open were taken on December 20, 2007.  It was warmer that day, and you can see the size of the young oak leaf lettuce, mizuna mustard greens, and cilantro.

Cold Frame, © Copyright 2008 Jade Leone BlackwaterToday it is too cold to open the cold frame, but you can see through the lights just how big the plants have become. At our next warm day I’ll try to sow some radishes and carrots.  Radishes are easy to grow and delicious when sliced thin on sandwiches.  Carrots are just always good, and it’s time to replenish the stock!

Cold Frame, © Copyright 2008 Jade Leone Blackwater