Monday, February 9, 2009
Coldframe roll call
Snow on the spiral garden (and everywhere else for that matter).
This year has been a real winter. It has been the kind of winter that old timers say is how 'it was when I was a kid.' We're not just talking a lot of snow either but bone shattering, teeth clattering, skin freezing cold. The wind chills have been dipping below - 35.
Commercial 'coldframes' made of aluminum and plastic covered by a low tunnel.
Today is relatively mild so I was willing to go outside and do a little coldframe roll call. Will anything be alive in there? Wilted leaves and the smell of rotting vegetation greeted me along with a bit of green.
Mache / Corn Salad
Corn salad has the small spoon like leaves.
Normally, corn salad laughs at the cold and is edible all winter. The fact that the outer leaves are frost bitten, I think is testament to how cold it has been.
Bietina / Perpetual Spinach
A form of Swiss Chard with thin petioles and green leaves, it has proven hardy enough to have survived. It may have helped that the deadened outer leaves sheltered the growing heart in the middle. The regular swiss chard 'Forkhook' was not so lucky.
Radicchio and Bunching Onion
Both were still alive though the outer leaves of the radicchio were frost bitten.
After hearing tales of the tasty spring leaves of scorzonera as a substitute for lettuce, I was very excited to try them. They seem to be alive and well so far.
A bit of an experiment, I decided to try the perennial Bunium bulbocastaneum which has edible tubers. The seeds can also be used as a cumin substitute and the leaves are similar to parsley. It is proving to be quite hardy.
I may have mentioned before that my nickname for italian flat leaf parsley is 'polar bear.' Seriously, this herb is a survivor. Not only does shrug off heat but cold as well. It also self seeds reliably in my garden. One year, I was soft hearted in my thinning and had so much parsley that I was giving it away to my neighbours.
Tatsoi and broccoli
This tatsoi is one of the few survivors. It was located in the middle of the coldframe so it was more insulated from the unrelenting cold. The broccoli plants still seem to be alive as well though their leaves are frost singed. We'll see if they start regrowing now that the light levels are increasing.
And finally, here is a weed whose name is escaping me. Anyone? It, along with ox-eye daisy meerily growing away.
What did not make it?
The kale and mustard seedlings were eaten by slugs, I think. Rapini bit the dust with the first really cold weather as did the florence fennel. I think I'll have to try heavy mulch for the florence fennel next year. It survived at least until -15 celcius I think in the coldframe, just repeated bouts of -25 were too much for it!