• Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

This morning I noticed that the lettuce seeds which I had scattered haphazardly in my cold frame only 2 weeks ago have started to germinate. Cold frames are handy if you want to protect small plants from the cold. I also like to use mine to grow early seeds of lettuce or any other crop which needs protection (from rabbits as well as the cold). I usually try to sow lettuce seeds such as the Little Gem variety or mixed salad leaves (Red Salad Bowl) in a row, but since I found an old packet of seeds which I did not expect to germinate I freely sprinkled the seeds and put a little bit of compost on top.

Cold Frame

Cold Frame

I recommend the use of a cold frame as an alternative to a greenhouse if you do not have enough space for a big greenhouse. Each year I replace the soil in my cold frame by adding some compost and some sand to lighten the structure of my clay soil. I can recommend 2 varieties of lettuces for their taste, crunchiness and easiness to grow: Counter (mentioned by skilled gardener Pippa Greenwood) and Batavia Rouge de Grenoble.

Top TipMy top tip: this may sound obvious but you need to remember to water your seeds regularly when they are covered in the cold frame as it can get quite dry. And in summer it’s warm enough to be able to remove the glass frame completely and just use the cold frame as a raised bed.

You can get a ready-to-be-assembled cold frame which is lighter than mine (made of polycarbonate glazing and aluminium frame) and can be delivered to your doorsteps in good time.

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