Garden to Table March 2016 OR There and back again, a cold frame’s journey

We’ve been enjoying spring weather before the equinox, a real treat, but we know we aren’t out of the proverbial woods yet. It’s still almost two months until the risk of frost is gone, so in March, garden to table has two parts: eating up what’s in the freezer from last year’s garden and preparing the garden as much as weather allows.

In January, I started cooking out of the cupboards and freezer. I still am working on the freezer, which I hope to have mostly empty when the farmer’s market starts again in late April. I need to find recipes for lots of frozen red currants from the garden and several bags of frozen cranberries which I got at the market. The freezer pickles will likely be all eaten up before cucumbers are ripe this summer, and the spinach I froze last year has all gone into quiches and pasta dishes. Surprisingly, we haven’t eaten as much strawberry jam as I expected, but I am sure the junior members of the Yarnstead family will step up and help with that. And just so nobody thinks I filled the freezer from the garden last year or even cooking ahead: no, I had a lot of help from Costco.

The ground is thawing slowly, and it’s been raining. This makes for a muddy lawn if I’m not careful how many times I walk back and forth carrying concrete blocks for raised bed building. Last year’s mulch is now thawed enough to move around, so I scraped some back to get bricks under the edge of the Grow Bed that I’ve chosen for the cold frame so I could tilt it toward the south to catch more sunlight. I started with a Grow Bed back in 2014. Since then I’ve tried various locations and configurations before coming back to a 3′ x3′ Grow Bed closer to the kitchen (and away from the invader-that-shall-not-be-named). I really, really hope this location will be the final one.

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March 16, 2014. I got some great early season greens from this bed!
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Cold frame, doubled in size with extension kit, in new bed in background, June 2014. Turns out this location wasn’t as sunny as I hoped. It was fine for summer crops.
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November 2, 2014, starting to be pretty shady over here, but you can’t keep arugula in a cold frame down.
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The cold frame I built in 2015, only to discover I’d not been careful enough again (!) about the late fall/early spring sunshine. Lesson: don’t build a cold frame in mid-summer.
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March 4, 2016. Switched back to a Grow Bed as it’s easy to get a top edge with no gaps to rest the doors on. It’s further from the house and gets more sun than my last two tries.

 

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March 12, 2016: Tilted toward south, and newly planted with a row each of arugula, mache, spinach, and nasturtiums. It’s still too cold for nasturtiums but curious to see how soon it’ll be warm enough for the inside the cold frame. Chicken wire laying on the surface to discourage squirrel digging.

Next post: a cookbook and crafty catch-up.

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