This past spring we built cold frames. After lots of research we determined it was worth a try to see if we could extend our cool weather greens for as long as possible. Guess what? They work! We have sure put them to the test this week! Spinach, butter lettuce, arugula, mache, romaine…ahh a feast of greens!
This task is something that the average gardener can accomplish and feel proud of. You can make whatever size that you see fit. We built basic boxes (we used wood that we salvaged from different areas of the barn, but if you don’t have access to this kind of surplus, there are many sources of available scrap lumber if you keep your eyes open). We slightly sloped the boxes with a lip on the end, lined them with insulation (like what you wrap your water heater in) and then fit them with old storm windows on top (reuse & recycle). The windows are hinged so we can open one side at a time to vent, so the plants don’t get too hot on a sunny day, or on a fair weather day take the window off.
Our most recent hurdle has been the increasing cold. Earlier this week we went and got outdoor/staked landscape lights with a plug (~$4), put in a couple of incandescent bulbs and are receiving enough heat to keep the plants happy. The picture above was taken yesterday morning! Now, we certainly won’t be able to keep this up all winter, but we’ve extended our season and if the current temperatures persist will be eating greens with every meal to use them all. Though it’s sad the season is officially ending, I’m enthusiastic that we will be able to start again and will be eating home-grown lettuces come very early next spring!