by Teresa Odle
I don’t know about you, but I always have mixed feeling this time of year. Fall is my favorite season and probably the most beautiful one in most parts of the country. But it also signals the end of the season, time to bring in delicate plants and watch summer bloomers fade and brown.
You can grow certain plants — especially edibles – well into fall with a cold frame. Cool-season lettuces are delicious and extend the amount of time you can enjoy home-grown leafy greens instead of buying them from a market. Brussels sprouts get a bad rap, but I love them; they’re another vegetable that comes in a cool season variety. In fact, most of the brussels’ relatives — the cole crops — are cool season harvesters. That includes cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Cold frames can extend these vegetables’ season even longer. These boxes with slanted roofs are fine examples of solar energy. When you orient the cover in a western, southwestern or southern direction, you help the box absorb sunshine and warm the plants and soil inside. All cold frames should have hinged covers that you can open to release heat when they get too warm and to prevent excessive moisture build-up.
You can build a cold frame, but most commercial cold frames are easy to assemble and store. After harvesting and enjoying those cool-season vegetables, you can easily pull the frame out again in the spring to start seedlings early in the spring. By making the most of a cold frame, you can extend your region’s growing season a few months!