Readying the Cold frames

IMG_6215I spent some time over the weekend getting the cold frames on the south side of my house ready for planting. Last fall, I renewed the soil in the frames with compost and worked the earth.

IMG_6216The first step toward planting involved getting the styroboard and glass windows off the frames! This was difficult because one cold frame was partially covered by a snow drift and both were frozen together. A film of water had formed and frozen between the layer of insulation and the framing. I first had to wait a full day for the sun and the 40F temperatures to do their work before I could get them apart. (I had covered them with styroboard to block the sun and hopefully keep them from drying out as much as they had in previous years–vain hope!)

IMG_6217After I got the tops off the frames, I was able to shovel them full of snow. (I will do this several times before I plant–as long as there is snow to shovel.) The conditions within each frame were Gobi Desert cold and dry. Slowly the snow will melt and sink into the thawing soil. (The soil is so frozen right now that even if I poured buckets of melt water from the roof onto it, the moisture would not sink into the rock-hard soil.)

During warmer years, I have had to add up to 20 gallons of water to each frame in order to get the soil moisture deep enough so I could work the earth to plant and to ensure that it didn’t dry out faster than I could water! Hopefully I will be able to plant frames in a week or so and still be eating green by mid to late April! Begonia

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