Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cold Frames

I have a fantasy that I just can’t shake. And yes, it has to do with cold frames.

A cold frame is a small, sometimes portable gardening structure that acts as a mini-greenhouse for the winter garden. It keeps the ice, snow and pelting rain out while maintaining a slightly warmer temperature for wonderful over-wintering crops like Mache, Italian Dandelion, arugula and parsley.

A cold frame also allows the excited gardener (that’s me) to start seedlings earlier, harden off seed starts and – this is especially exciting – plant some heat loving vegetables in the spring that will love getting that extra heat provided by the glass enclosure. Peppers, eggplant and um, more peppers. I’ve never grown peppers here in the northwest. I get a little giddy thinking about Capsicum annuums. Here at this house where the microclimate is colder than many of my other northwestern gardener friends, I gave up that fantasy years ago.

To be honest, only one reason for not indulging in my gardening desires had to do with my cold, wet location. Before this year, I never had the time to even consider what a four season harvest might look like. It wasn’t until the last few weeks of 2011 that I started letting myself dream.

An organic garden that sustains me through the year. How amazing would that be? A garden filled with heirloom varieties of carrots, tomatoes and peppers. Herbs, fruit and old damask roses – I hear the distant song of summer just writing about this.

As fantasies go, this isn’t perhaps what someone else might have in mind; however, for me it is perfect and I’m looking at cold frame designs as a starting place. I can’t think of a better way to manifest a dream and watch it grow.

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