Germination. Although the snow has taken a serious beating as of late, my north garage bed that in the past has provided for copious greens is still under about 2′ of snow. But in the cold frames, life has begun. Arugula [seen left], radish [bottom], spinach, and the mesclun and ‘greens’ mixes are showing their faces. Not a great accomplishment in most climates, I reckon, but it is here. My dad was by today and figures his rural garden will have snow on it until well into May.
Now normally, I’m a spreadsheet geek, and pre-children would have had daily data on my cold frame temps, etc. Yeah, not going to happen right now [for those that don't know, I have a baby boy as of last Thursday!]. But what I can offer is that the evidence below shows the cold frame at 16.4C under cloud when the ambient outdoor temp is 8C. An 8C difference is pretty important when the inevitable nasty cold and snow returns for a late spring reminder of winter nastiness. My little plants will be protected, both from the cold, and more importantly [I've read], from the wind and snow and ice that really does the damage. I took a quick look at it under direct sun 11C outdoor temp, and had to look twice: 42C. Clearly, I have to mind my manners in sunny weather, or cook my plants.
I’ve been asked if I’ll insulate or heat these things. At this time, the answer’s no. The varieties I’ve committed to them are all very cold hardy. I’m not trying to or interested in pushing my luck with stuff marginal to our growing zone – I just want to eat the cold hardy stuff [of which there are many] way earlier and later in the shoulder seasons than I’ve grown up thinking was possible.
Last note: my seedlings sown in March have been transplanted into the cold frames, and are faring easily through the overnight outdoor freezes. More on those little guys soon.