When we first moved to our farm, our barn was filled with decades of, ahem, stuff. Much of it was beyond salvage, but we did find many well-seasoned tools that linked us to the hands that once worked our land and treasures from a time when this smallholding provided a livelihood and sustenance for its caretakers.
The farmhouse has been renovated and upgraded over the years, but there are still some relics from an earlier homestead that are tucked into a dark corner of the barn. While I'm grateful for our energy-efficient windows, I knew these old storm windows could once again help shelter our family from the cold.
I was fortunate to attend a conference where I heard Maine farmer Eliot Coleman speak about his ingenious and yet simple strategies for extending the growing season. Much of his knowledge is captured in his inspiring and sensible book, Four-Season Harvest -- a must-read for anyone interested in tending to, and reaping the delights of, a year-round, fresh-food garden.
Coleman got me turned on to the idea of growing, harvesting and eating fresh in every season. While we're still enjoying preserved goods, onions & garlic and root crops from last season, my body is craving greens from the garden. So today, we built our first cold frames.
We originally planned to build the boxes according to Coleman's suggestion for the simplest cold frame: a rectangular wooden box, 8' long and 4' wide with a 12" back wall and an 8" front wall.
But as we were collecting scrap wood from the barn and driveshed, we found these pieces that seemed just right.
We did measuring and some cutting...
... and constructed two small boxes measuring 4-1/2 feet wide and about 2-1/2 feet deep -- much less than Coleman's recommendation for two 4' x 8' cold frames per person.
We mounted the four windows on the top using eight hinges - the only materials we purchased for the project...
... and we set the two frames outside the perimeter of our existing kitchen garden.
Over the next few days, I'll begin to stock them with our first scallion, spinach, leek and lettuce seeds.
These frames are small but to me, they represent another step on our family's path towards self-sufficient living. And I can't wait to taste farm-fresh greens next February!