Backyard salad, pre-chilled

Backyard salad, pre-chilled

Out at my place, we’ve been eating fresh salads from our garden. Like this, which I picked on Monday:

Clockwise from the top, that’s mache, spinach and arugula. (Say hi, guys!) This stuff has been in fine eating shape since about the first of the year. We had some mizuna, too, but it bit the dust, and our claytonia never really germinated.

What language am I speaking, you ask? How do we do it, you ask? Magicians we are not. We simply follow the advice of Mr. Eliot Coleman, particularly in this book, which makes the wonderful point that even up in Maine, they have the same amount of winter sunlight as Southern France. Which puts us, here in the mid-Atlantic, in even better shape. If you’re growing veggies in winter, it’s the amount of daylight that counts more than the temperature…as long as you have one of these:

This, my friends, is a cold frame. (In this picture it’s vented a bit, since the weather’s been so warm.) We banged it together from some two-by lumber and put some old  windows and pieces of glass on top. Voila: a snug, wind-free environment for plants.

I’m always surprised that folks who grow up a storm in the summertime aren’t also enjoying salads on chilly January days. It’s really easy to grow this winter stuff; besides the cold-weather greens, you can do parsley, sometimes carrots, and other things. We’ve been doing it since 2003 and have had various frames over the years, including one made from wooden palettes with hay stuffed inside.

And so we do not need to buy lettuce from California, and life is good.

Any other Coleman acolytes out there?