This winter cold frame is ready to go.

This winter cold frame is ready to go.

Cold frame construction to keep out pests

When our foster dog Monkey cracked a double-paned window by jumping on the cold frame this

When our foster dog Monkey cracked a double-paned window by jumping on the cold frame this summer to access an escape route under the fence behind it, he only hurt his ego and provided yet another verse for David’s latest song, “Bad Dog”.

After I removed all the glass and replaced it with two layers of clear plastic, the whole contraption moved more easily and should still retain enough heat this fall and winter. If this works I may replace the other two windows in the cold frame with plastic as well, because that sucker is heavy!

David made this sturdy frame two years ago, eight feet long, two feet wide, eight inches high along one length and 12 along the other. Solid wood. I plan on getting buried in it. For now, however, eight flats of transplants fit in there each spring quite nicely, allowing for easy hardening-off.

Slugs and wood bugs got the better of my previous attempts at growing fall crops in the cold frame with the notable exception of the chicories, which tasted so bitter even the slugs wouldn’t eat them. I can’t rely on garter snakes to slither into the cold frame despite the welcoming sign, so I have an alternate plan.

I put the cold frame over the prepared bed, opened it up and laid down a layer of clear plastic directly on the ground inside, battening down the edges. I put the lid back down and will leave it shut throughout Indian summer in hopes that the trapped heat will solarize the soil, which is a politically correct way to say “kills all the bugs”. By the way, I’m allowed to say “Indian summer” because my kids, who are status First Nations, assure me it’s not an offensive term. I plan to give the cold frame three weeks to solarize and then start planting.

In the meantime I’m sowing flats of winter lettuce, spinach, dandelion and chicory. Perhaps the chicories will taste better this year if I kill them young. David thinks sowing dandelions is a bit eccentric, so I showed him the seed catalogue that says these “dandelions are delectable and nutritious.” David says I shouldn’t believe everything a salesperson tells me. Perhaps not, but around the end of the first week in October I will transplant these seedlings and sow a few winter radishes and turnips in the cold frame.