Tag Archives: lettuce

Benefits Of A Cold Frame

Early Bounty

We set up a cold frame for the first time last autumn but it didn’t do much for us this winter because we installed it so late in the season.   However, it provided us with a place to start our vegetables early.  The seeds were sown in March when some days were still hovering around 20ºF here.  We were able to pick our first salad of the season in April when  temperatures outside were in the mid 30ºF to low 50ºF.

The weather is still unpredictable.  Temperatures have been swinging between 70ºF daytime and a low around 40ºF at night.  It’s still too cold for many vegetables to germinate outside, but I have sown scallion, Mustard ‘Dragon Tongue’ and Oakleaf lettuce in the plot outside the cold frame and it seems to be taking them a little bit longer to sprout.  But I can wait as I still have a lot of vegetables to pick from in the cold frame.

Aside from being able to grow leafy vegetables in the cold frame on an early schedule, I’m also able to use it for strengthening the seedlings.  Plenty of sunlight can get through the plastic but not direct sun and it stays warm enough in there to avoid stunting the growth of the seedlings.  I have to be careful to open it up during the day when the temperature reaches above 50ºF.   It becomes a sauna in there if I don’t open it.   Too hot or too cold is never good for growing anything.

This one worked so well that I’m tempted to get a larger one that will cover the entire vegetable plot.  Maybe I could go through winter without ever buying salad from a store.

Plenty of Pac Choi and Red-leaf lettuce in there with flowering Broccoli Raab in the background
Plenty of Pac Choi and Red-leaf lettuce in there with flowering Broccoli Raab in the background
French Breakfast and Cherry Belle Radish with Kale and self-sown Dills and Calendula
French Breakfast and Cherry Belle Radish with Kale and self-sown Dills and Calendula
A lot of Mizuna, Arugula and some Kale
A lot of Mizuna, Arugula and some Kale

 

Spring Vegetable Garden

Sprouting Time

After a long wait for fresh backyard salad, I can hardly stop myself from sowing seeds in the vegetable garden.  As soon as the soil softens, judged by seeing weeds coming up, I put Arugula, Radish (Cherry Belle and French Breakfast), Pak choi, Mizuna, Kale, Swiss chard, Scallion, Lettuce, and Broccoli Raab in.   The arugula is always the first to come up.

I also put Snap Peas in the soil directly.  I find that they grow stronger that way than starting them in a container and replanting them.  I just soak the seeds in water for a few hours, placing them between damp paper towels.  The roots will sprout out in two nights.  I drop the ones with roots in the soil and cover them.  I don’t have to worry about hardening them.  If they feel it’s the right time to poke shoots above ground, they will. They are already a couple of inches tall now.  I will have stir-fry sized pea shoots in a couple of weeks.

Some self-sown Broccoli Raab, Borage and Calendula also came up.  Last year’s Red Russian kale, Scallion and Radicchio looks pretty fresh and healthy.  I can pick them while waiting to thin the seedlings (great baby greens for salad).  I also picked my first Asparagus of the season last weekend and will have some more this weekend.  Garlic is looking lovely at this time too.  I have already fed them once.

Yes, the tomatoes have sown themselves again.  They are just an inch above the soil surface right now, not big enough to be transplanted yet.  I will take most of the Borage and Calendula out from the vegetable garden and transplant them along with the flowers.

Anywhere I turn there are signs of new shoots and leaves unfurling, another cycle of life has begun.

First fresh, sweet, asparagus of the season.
First fresh, sweet, asparagus of the season.
Most of these Calendula seedlings will be transplanted to the flower garden.
Most of these Calendula seedlings will be transplanted to the flower garden.
These Snap peas were sown directly in the soil.  I don't have to cover them even on a 39 degree night.
These Snap peas were sown directly in the soil. I don’t have to cover them even on a 39 degree night.
Borage sprouts up right next to the garlic.  I keep a few of them in the vegetable garden, but this one will have to move.
Borage sprouts up right next to the garlic. I keep a few of them in the vegetable garden, but this one will have to move.
Put the garlic cloves in last October and they came up in March.
Put the garlic cloves in last October and they came up in March.