A couple of months ago, I built my first cold frame, from 2″ x 6″‘s and Plexiglass. I started some lettuce seeds indoors, and on February 27–three weeks earlier than you’re supposed to plant lettuce outdoors–I transplanted them into the cold frame.
Well, the cold frame was useful for about a week and a half. Then, suddenly, daytime temperatures were in the 70’s, and I had to remove the Plexiglass to keep the lettuce from sweltering. I replaced it with some leftover lattice that keeps the critters out and provides a little shade from the hot noonday sun. Who knew that we’d have to worry about providing shade in mid-March? And be watering every other day with nary a cloud in sight?
I guess the lettuces were happy, though, because they grew wonderfully, and in the last week have about doubled in size. I didn’t even have time to warn Sarah not to buy any more lettuce at the grocery store. There was still half a head of romaine in the crisper when I realized, “We’ve got to start eating from the cold frame now, before these lettuces take over the world!”
So I started harvesting: for the first picking, just one leaf from each plant. These are all loose-leaf lettuces, and I like to harvest this way (rather than waiting to harvest an entire plant at once) so that each plant keeps on growing and producing new leaves and we get a variety of leaf colors and textures in our salads. I tasted a few as I harvested. Yum…that’s the taste I’ve been missing since we had our last garden-fresh salad on New Year’s Eve. We ate our first homegrown salad of the season with raisins and a lemon tahini dressing. Nothing like it.
I’m about to go out to the garden and get some more…