I’ve been meaning to take some shots to illustrate this for a while now: the disparity between cold frame sown root veg [April 1], and direct sown when the soil was ready [early May]. Last year, I had succession planted carrots over a few weeks, and at some point in the summer, they all ended up about the same size anyway. I wasn’t confident sowing root veg super-early would make much difference in the end or be worth the effort. At this point though, the gap seems rather large.
The marker is for scale. Clearly the cold frame carrots are miles ahead. It’s equally dramatic with the beets. Looks like the result will be us eating beets and carrots a good month or more earlier from the cold frame sown rows. No complaints here. I’ll take early.
It’s also likely worth noting that my first greens crops from the cold frame are all harvested, many weeks ago, and I’ve already got bush beans growing as a 2nd crop. A third crop will go in there post-beans: winter ready greens again like kales, lettuces, arugula, etc. If this plays out as expected, it will be my first harvest of 3 crops on the same space in our short growing season.
Wonderful! We finally got a bit of a garden in – way late in the season, but at least it’s finally started. I’ll definitely be making up some cold frames to use come next spring, now that we actually have garden space to work with.
Can you comment on the feasibility of the cold frame method for those who are away from the home 9 to 10 hours per day on week days? I’m thinking you must have had to open up the cold frame on warm afternoons to prevent cooking the greens. Because of this concern, I’ve not really tried an early start cold frame. Is this concern not warranted?
I suppose an alternative early start method is growing indoors and transplanting, which I have successfully done in the past. I can attest this allows for time away from home with daily checks/watering in the morning and evening and a grow light on timer. Doesn’t work if you have to head out-of-town though unless someone checks while away.
Your concern is certainly partly warranted. But I think you can still come out ahead, even if away all day. I found that the cold weather that justified the lights was obviously so, and that the hot weather that clearly didn’t require them was clearly obviously so. So I think some diligent forecast watching would solve this problem fairly readily. I certainly did not find myself with them on and off and on and off. I did find there were a couple weeks of keeping them on come evening to protect against overnight frost, then off in the morning – but that seems a good fit with a work-day schedule. It’s also brief. I haven’t had the lids on my cold frames since April, I believe, maybe the first week of May. They’re currently zero maintenance.
Hope that helps!!! [great question]