Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Mother of All Cold Frames

Can a coldframe be art? A sculpture? A thing of beauty? I think mine might qualify for them all. After all, the tagline/motto of 3 Flat Acres is blending food and farm into work - life - art

I've been asking Bill to built me a coldframe for a couple of years - every since I read Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest (*El's recommendation - see footnote for more about El). It took a while but it was well worth the wait. I should note that this is in our Chicago backyard.

The wall frames are constructed with scraps from a ReAdapted project from Black Locust which was sustainably harvested from Western IL near Galena. Black Locust is one of the hardest (and heaviest!) woods to work with. It is similar to Osage Orange and can last 100 years as fenceposts without treatment. The coldframe walls come apart with screws and wingnuts to allow it to be disassembled easily. The glass tops are made from old windows from my friend Mimi's house. She gave us the windows a couple of years ago and we left them outside in the weather on top of a sheet of plastic to allow the weather to do the majority of the paint removal (amazing what rain, sun and freeze thaw can do for you if you are patient). These are old windows and had years of paint (yes, lead paint). The paint flecked off onto the plastic so we were able to safely dispose of the paint chips. Bill then removed the glass from the frames, further removed any remaining paint, sealed them with an environmental soy-based sealer, reworked the frame, and then reinstalled the glass. He sanded down the low side of the window frame to allow water to run off. There are two eyehooks on the backside which, using the chain from the old windows (these are old double-hung windows), can hook on to the eyehooks to keep the frames propped open.

hard to see, but this photo shows the low side of the glass sanded down to allow water run off

I set it up about 10 days ago, and taking some lettuces that had gone to seed, shook the seed onto the soil, topped with a tray of worm compost and it has sprouted already. I situated the set up on top of a couple of kale plants and beet plants (we are obsessed with beet greens) that we have been eating from all summer, and transplanted some chard inside. Oh and sorrel is in there too!

beets in the foreground (sorry about the glare)

We'll see if it can keep us in greens all winter!
* I realize that I quote El over at Fast Grow the Weeds a lot. She is my inspiration on many projects and she is the absolute locavore and lover of real food. If you don't read her blog, please pop over and visit her. The post on eating live foods almost brought me to tears.


Trout Caviar said...

That's a beaut, Angie! In Chicago I'll bet you really can grow all winter in that.

Happy harvesting~ Brett

p.s.~ fastweedpuller El is my hero, too!!

angie said...

Hi Brett,

Thanks! I talked with Smude Oil this morning about their sunflower oil. He's going to send me a sample. I'm trying to get a split going amongst my food coop members. He said he had 2 inches of snow this morning....

Trout Caviar said...

Hi Angie: Flurries here today in Saint Paul. I guess they got substantial snow up north.

I've almost finished my bottle of the Smude sunflower oil. Excellent stuff.

Stay warm~ Brett

Barb said...

I have cold frame envy! Love the way he made it so water flows down it. We had a cold frame at our old house. Miss growing things while everything else is bare.

angie said...

Hi Barb,

Yes, but you have 1200 garlic cloves in the ground! :)