January 2011
Home Grown Tomatoes

Cold Frame Salad

Get out your seed catalog because it’s time to plant your salad greens! Actually, if you have a cold frame, you could be harvesting your salad right now.

Even in the worst winter here in the South, salads could be grown in a simple cold frame.

Start with an up-cycled window sash or two. The size of the sash(s) will determine the size of lumber you will use to build your cold frame. They can be single pane, six-light, double glazed; no matter! Glass doors make good covers, too! The important things are the sashes are reclaimed (keeps them out of the landfill) from a previous use, the cold frame will be positioned where you can keep an eye on it and it should be facing the south with the southern-end sloped lower than the northern-end.

The window sashes can be hinged or laid on top of your frame. Be sure to seal the bottom of the frame where it contacts the ground with soil in order to keep ambient heat inside the cold frame. To do that, simply mound dirt around the outside of the frame.

When days are above-freezing, be sure to raise the sash a few degrees in order to allow natural ventilation and prevent your plants from burning. Raise the sash by propping open the southern-end a few inches above the frame.

On the inside, fill with your favorite potting soil and plant your seed directly or use small containers filled with your favorite potting medium.

Now you have built your cold frame, it’s time to plant your salad greens. Choose seed for plants tolerant of some light frost.

What’s in the salad greens cold frame at the tomato tower this year? Black-seeded Simpson, Oak Leaf, Red Sails, Tango, Deer Tongue lettuces and Red Giant mustard greens. Yum!

Tips: On nights when the temperature is expected to drop into the teens, be sure to cover your cold frame with a blanket for added insulation. It is important to prop open the cold frame at every opportunity for ventilation. Air circulation is very important for preventing fungus growth. Remember to water your greens.

Enjoy a fresh salad every winter day from plants you grew in your cold frame.

Happy New Year!

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