Wow! The C-c-c-cold Frame Works!

It has been in single or negative digits at night for at least a week. Sometimes it didn’t even reach double digits during the day, so, as you can imagine, I haven’t exactly been messing with the cold frame. Yesterday, I even bought some rainbow chard when we ventured out to the Mishawaka Whole Foods. I’ve had this weird sense that all my plants were still alive under the cold frame, but Reason and others’ experiences would seem to have said otherwise. As far as cold frames go, ours is pretty thin plastic, and -2 degrees is the kind of weather that normally kills off everything but mache, which I haven’t planted yet. (Kicking myself. Actually, doubly kicking myself, since I could have planted it today. Doh!)

Anyway, today the temperature climbed to a balmy 30 degrees, so I clomped out in David’s slip on snow boots (mine are in the garage), armed with scissors, waterproof gloves and some optimism. Below, you can see the cold frame after I put it back together, having peeked inside and tromped around it to dump our (stanky!) compost now that the compost bin’s not frozen shut, as it has been all week:

Snowy cold frame

I would have photographed it to begin with, but I honestly had no reason to expect I’d have plants alive to photograph. I had put some row covers inside the cold frame, and David did engineer a way to keep the cold frame on and eliminate the drafts at the imperfect seals using tarps, clips, D-rings and cinder blocks. Go, David! It worked! OK, and I’m hearing some “Ahem’s” from the Nature Spirits and faeries whom I asked to “protect my crops.” Check out these greens!

Greens after negative two

The rhubarb red chard looks very unhappy and the garlic chives have melted into nothingness (until spring?). But everything else is thriving, especially the thyme. The Lucullus chard has even grown!

I bundled up the babies again after telling them how impressed I was at their hardiness:

Bundled up greens

Since most of the greens aren’t really growing, but just surviving, I harvested more modest amounts than I usually do. We’ll still have plenty for my favorite “whole messa greens.”

Greens harvested after negative two

It was -2 degrees F! It has been below 10 degrees for many nights on end. We have barely had any sunshine to heat up the inside, and those row covers supposedly only offer 5 degrees of protection. Someone’s been helping my greens survive … and I am grateful.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Way to go! I am trying something similar. I have cold frames but waist high…not sure if they would work not against the ground…, but they are working here too in South Central Kansas. Its been very cold here too and I have been traveling (got stuck in the ice storm in Dallas!) and haven’t paid much attention to my minimal crop of herbs and pansies, but surprise…they are indeed alive even after they looked doomed. I too wanted to plant seeds but life got in the way. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  2. This is awesome! All of your posts are inspiring, but I “file away” all the gardening ones mentally for when I will have a place with a yard. The fey are def keeping an eye out.

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  3. Thanks, newearthjourney! Glad you’re having fun with winter gardening, too!

    Sulis9, it is SO much fun finally having more than a tiny strip of land by the sidewalk and a shady backyard raised bed. Those were fun, too, but I dreamed this garden into existence. You will benefit from all this time of daydreaming about what you’d love. ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, those fey are ever so good to me!

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  4. Brrrrr! Those are some hardy greens, and some fiery fairies. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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