Garden Cold Frame
"Green Things" in the Spring are much anticipated and appreciated, especially after one of the longest and coldest winters in Minnesota history. We enjoy fresh green salads made up of a blend of mixed lettuce- Red Sails, Red Freckles, Simpson, and Bibb, along with spinach, kale, and chard. Hardy herbs add to the flavors with parsley, oregano and thyme. I planted these seeds early in March with snow still on the ground. The baby plants were warm and happy on the inside. Our first salads were served in late April and there has been an abundant assortment of our favorite green things ever since.
It was near the end of May before I could plant the normal summer greens in the "salad bowl" area of the main garden. Cold and wet and nasty are good ways to describe the Spring of 2001. (Compare the plants in cold frame to the ones not in the frame.) The upside of all this is that thanks to Bob's ingenuity and my early seeding, we did not miss out on a single sensational salad. These same organic salad greens sell for $7.98 a pound at a Minneapolis health food market.
The plants are removed in the hot summer months. Seeds are planted in August for a late Fall harvest. We have eaten radishes as late as the first week in December. Beets and onions work well too. Overnight temperatures below 15 degrees freeze the greens and close to zero put an end to the root crops.
Construction: Sarah and I were doing a yard sale when I noticed these double-hung windows for a dollar apiece. I offered three-dollars for four of them and the lady was glad to get rid of them. The metal handles and hinges were another yard sale find. The plywood sides were recycled from packing crates. Some 1/2" sash chain keeps the windows from leaning out too far. The only thing brought from the lumber yard were the green-treated landscaping timbers (See item A and B in the picture). I ripped the timbers in half, and they became braces for the top and bottom edges (item A). The corner bumpers (item B) are just like A but with a triangular piece removed so that they fit snugly over the corner joint, protecting it from the weather.
The windows are supported in the up position by a prop whose bottom end fits into a 2 by 4 with "stair steps" sawn into it (item C). I suggest you make the props sturdy as the windows are quite heavy and present a large area to the wind. For heat escape in sunny days, a small board pivots up to prop either window open a couple of inches. Total cost: about $15 for two units.