The Salad Cold Frame

Lest you think this past weekend and all that sunshine has only been about flowers:

We also moved the cold frame and planted it with some cool-weather salad veggies. It is in a row along the patio that will actually mostly be fallow this year. Part will be planted with strawberries, but we are phasing those in, so there is space for an early cold frame here where it won't affect anything in the planting plan later.

Anyway, we put three rows of carrots (Danvers Half-long) along the back where the frame is tall, then in front of that a row of radishes and a row of beets. In front of all that are mesclun and spinach, which take up about the whole front half of the cold frame. 

With our extra-warm weather, the cold frame is nice and warm, so we are hoping for quick germination and growth to tide us over until the rest of the garden is really up and running. I went out today to check the moisture, and it was quite warm inside, even with our foggy, 40-degree day today. Next year we will try starting the cold frame even earlier, just as soon as we can when there's no snow (this year we probably could have started a month ago!). 

As for the kale, mache, and spinach that were in the cold frame all winter, they are out in the fresh air now, and definitely hardy enough to handle the spring:

These plants will be eaten up within the next couple weeks anyway to make room for a row of peas that will run down the center of that bed. (And I'm sure we could have planted those peas already also, but we're sticking to our planting plan that is based on averages, not anomalies in temperature.)

Another bit of good news: we were (finally) able to use our own compost to prepare the cold frame soil. Our oldest compost piles were started when we first moved here and are now two years old:

We never really tended these piles in their wire cages, but after two years the stuff at the bottom is black and soft and ready to go. The only difficulty right now is that these are in a shady spot behind the garage and so are partially frozen. (Still! what is it with compost that makes it so slow to thaw out?) We were able to get at enough to use for the cold frame, and there's enough there to get us through until the compost center in Newburyport opens up in April. 

Since the compost center sticker is so cheap, we have no problem bringing in all that we need. We plan to build more pallet compost bins and keep them filled (and turned, too!), so hopefully by next year we'll be able to have a closed ecosystem in which all of our compost comes from our own garden. That's probably too much to expect this year, though, so we'll get any extra we need from the city.


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