Laura Bruno – Wow! The C-c-c-Cold Frame Works! – 14 December 2013

laura-of-the-rocksIt 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 frameI 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 twoThe 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 twoIt 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.

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