The Salad Table And Cold Frame

Most years I look at the calendar and say: “I should have started the salad greens two or three weeks ago.” This year I took all of the potential seed packets, picked the things we were most excited about (or the oldest packets regardless), and started the cool-weather greens indoors on January 25th.

Generally that would be fine. The coastal Pacific Northwest has mostly mild Springs, and the seedlings can go outside in February after they’ve been hardened off for a few days. Last week the seedlings forced the issue because they were outgrowing the lighting rig. This coincided with snow in the forecast, so we brought the cold frame out of the back yard and placed it on the sunniest place on the property — along the edge of the front walkway tucked up next to the salad table. We added row cover over the top of the salad table as well to protect the newly transplanted arugula (the row cover is not pictured):

That’s Miner’s Lettuce on the bottom level of the salad table and all around the nearby pots. It’s Northwest Native, high in vitamin C, makes a nice salad base, and it’s been re-seeding itself the last few years. I’m now trying it in other places around the side and back yards to see if it’ll grow there too. The cold frame has Super Sugar Snap peas, some lettuces, dill, and cilantro.

We got more than 6 inches of snow on Thursday and Friday. I’d include a current picture but it’d look like “A Polar Bear In A Snowstorm” — the top of the snow is almost level with the top of the front of the cold frame.

We’d purchased the cold frame a few years ago at a home and garden show, with the thought that we could grow cool weather greens in the back yard with the assistance. Unfortunately the micro climate in the back yard isn’t suitable for spring gardening — the sun level is too low in the horizon so the (East-NorthEast facing) back yard stays frosty well after the front yard warms up. We wouldn’t want to have it partially blocking the front walkway all the time, so the cold frame has mostly been idle the last few years.

But it’s nice to finally use it the cold frame again. The snow has started up again as I write this. Bringing the cold frame to the sunny part of the yard may become an annual Spring tradition.

5 thoughts on “The Salad Table And Cold Frame

  1. What a good idea to adapt your needs to your growing conditions. Hope your snow melts quickly. Love the salad table idea, and I may have to try miner’s lettuce. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks carolee-

      The “trick” with miner’s lettuce is to give it frequent haircuts before it goes to seed.. The flower bit is still edible but it’s sort of crunchy in a way I don’t find appealing.

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    1. A few years ago I purchased an “arm” that automatically (unfolds and) opens the cold frame when the air heats up inside. Maybe we can figure out a way to mount it so that the arm disengages when the box is opened manually. I wasn’t that clever at the time.

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