Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Out In the Snow

Spring is not coming fast enough. I have more seedlings in my cellar than I have places to plant them.
Right now the garden has four glass covered frames in it. The oldest is what I call the "lettuce frame" and I have used it for a number of years to overwinter lettuce seedlings so that they are ready to take off as soon as the weather warms enough to melt off any snow and then provide light fo
r the lettuce plants to start growing again. With the recent 18-24 inches of snow that hasn't happened yet. I did brush the snow off before that downfall and found that the soil was still frozen.
Then there is the green cold frame that was the subject of an earlier post. That one is filled with mostly mache and claytonia. The plants have survived and I expect will soon start growing visibly. I have begun removing the insulation cover from 8 A.M. until 6 P.M. so that the plants get at least ten hours of light. The air temperature inside the frame yesterday afternoon was about 76 degrees an
d the soil temperature about 56 degrees. Today I propped the glass open a little so that it wouldn't get too hot.

The third frame, pictured here, is a clay colored cold frame that is much larger than the green one. It is currently filled with spinach, lettuce, mache and zen (a mild green).
In this photo it is propped open so that it doesn't overheat on this 42 degree sunny day.

The fourth frame is my simplest one. I made it from cedar fence slats from the 20 year old fencing around the yard that was replaced several years ago. [I kept a lot of them.] Although the surface of the boards look as if they are rotting, when I cut them I found a lot of solid wood inside. Because this was made from cedar I didn't have to prime or paint. I also did not insulate this one at all and do not plan to make an insulated cover for the glass. So this will be used somewhat differently than the other two. It does have the advantage that I have two screens from the same window that the glass came from and I will be able to remove the glass and use the screens in early spring to protect seedlings from insects such as flea beetles. This frame was set down on about a foot of heavy snow two days ago. Today I took off the glass covers and removed as much snow as I could and pushed the frame down onto the garden surface. The forecast is for sun during the next five days and by the end of that time the snow will be gone and the soil warm enough for planting. Or so I hope because I have those seedlings to plant out. I think I have far more than will fit into that frame. It may be time to start the next cold frame. I do have a lot of fence slats that I have been saving for something.
This photo was taken a couple days after writing this. I am digging as much of the soil in the frame as is diggable. Around the edges the soil is still frozen and comes up in cold lumps, if at all.


  1. If you plant cold crops like collard greens and lettuce in May have your found that they end up bolting? And where can i find a list of crops that will not be hurt by the Syracuse frosts?

  2. I don't start collards until June. But broccoli and kale, which I do start in the spring, don't bolt. I start lettuce at intervals during the summer, generally in the shade when it starts getting warm. It will eventually bolt but usually we have eaten it before that.
    When you ask about crops not hurt by frosts are you talking about plants out in the open or under some kind of protection?