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Cold Frame Greens

Posted by tinako on April 14, 2013

Cold Frame Salad

Cold Frame Salad

I’ve been making my salads with greens from my cold frame.  This one is mostly composed of the mystery green and arugula, with cilantro, tomato, cuke and avocado from the store.  On this I had Balsamic Maple Dressing.

Mostly my cold frame has been disappointing.  I planted seeds in late August, before I had even built the cold frame, and they sprouted great, but then never grew.  They remained 1″ tall for 4 months and then most disappeared over the winter.  I previously discuss the soil I used, and how I adjusted the pH and added a few nutrients recommended in the cold frame book I used.  Local cooperative extension was stumped.

001So not much was growing, and then the cold frame itself got warm in the daytime, and the thermal-activated window-opening arm worked great.  But at night it was the same temperature in and out of the cold frame, and I had a lot of problems with the plastic lights blowing off even with the rope and rocks, even one board wasn’t enough.  Eventually I put two boards across, and that worked pretty well as long as it wasn’t warm enough to need the arm.  But between the hassle of removing the boards to open it and the little food available inside, I really didn’t bother going out all winter.  Now that it’s warmer, I have the arm installed again, and the boards are set as you see, leaving free the panel which opens automatically.  Still doing well are one out of two Swiss chards (from last summer’s garden), the collard greens (ditto) which from experience would have overwintered fine without a cold frame, and from seed: arugula and a mystery green.

Mystery Green - Miner's Lettuce?

Mystery Green – Miner’s Lettuce?

I would expect the mystery green to be either Mache or Miner’s Lettuce, two cold-hardy crops I sowed from seeds from Bountiful Gardens.  But these plants don’t even look like the pictures at their own web site.  But they did better than anything else over the winter and taste good, nice and bland even though they’ve bolted, a welcome relief from many peppery greens.  Despite having (edible) stems and very small leaves, they make a good substitute for regular lettuce.

Last week I replanted the cold frame with cold-hardy crops, some of which produce through fall: kale, beets, parsley; some will be done sooner: cilantro, kohlrabi, radishes, lettuce.  We’ll see if it pulls the same trick.

I also sowed a flat of seedlings for taking to my parents’ cottage, and they’re starting to come up.  The flat includes the cold-weather crops, since we won’t go down for another month.  This year I planted mesclun, Amish Paste Tomato, Ronde de Nice zucchini (softball size and shape, delicious), jalapenos, Fordhook Giant Chard, Laciniato (Tuscan) Kale, Satsuki Madori seedless cuke, purple basil, and seeds saved from mini cantaloupes and heirloom German Striped tomato, both delicious from farm stand last year.  My daughter should be planting her Roma tomatoes for her beach cash crop soon.

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2 Responses to “Cold Frame Greens”

  1. tinako said

    Ha, since writing this I noticed those flowers poking up all over my lawn. I’m not sure if what I’ve been eating are weeds that blew in from my lawn (unlikely given the timing), or whether this cold frame green whose seeds I bought is just also a common weed. That’s fine. They still tasted good. Now that my husband has mowed the flower stalks, they’re harder to find.

  2. tinako said

    I’ve identified it – it’s Bittercress and is edible (and native).

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