An update on the winter sowing and the hair on my knee.

Cold Frame
Before we get into the success (or not) of my winter sowing could we all just sit down for a moment and think about the hair on our knees. My knee. But I suspect probably your knee as well.

Do you, or do you not have one single hair poking out of your knee that you manage to miss every, SINGLE time you shave your legs?  I think you do.  I’d say at the moment mine is over half an inch long. Which, based on the growth rate of leg hair means it’s been growing for approximately a month.  Shaving every other day means 15 shaves.  So I have passed over this one single, solitary follicle 15 times.

And yet when I mow the lawn I hit the exact same, single rock every time.

The lawn is a mess at the moment right now by the way. It’s been so bizarrely cold nothing is growing still.  The lawn is a mess, the front yard is a mess, the porch is a mess.

But the cold frame?  The cold frame is lookin’ good.


Lee Valley Greenhouse Hinge
It was a disaster last fall/winter by the way. I didn’t water it, didn’t pay much attention to it and low and behold the plants inside it kind of croaked. Or so I thought.

Come this spring things started sprouting up. Because I wanted to keep these surprise plants alive I invested in a heat activated hinge from Lee Valley. It opens my cold frame when it hits a predetermined temperature inside (I set it to around 10 C) so the plants don’t cook. I never have to worry about running out to open the cold frame or running out to close it up. It’s all automatic.

Cold Frame Lettuce


A couple of weeks ago I took a look at the winter sowing I had done in plastic containers outside. They looked great. Everything sprouted, but I could see I was heading for disaster again. If I left the lids on by accident on a warm day the plants would all fry. That’s all it would take. One day of hot weather combined with my ineptitude. A totally likely combination.

Cold Frame Lettuce 2


So I transplanted all of my winter sowing into the cold frame with the heat activated hinge.  Lettuces like this great looking saw toothed mizuna.

Cold Frame Mizuna

Some Romaine, red and green leaf lettuces and more. MUCH more.

Cold Frame Lettuces

The entire lefthand side of the cold frame is filled with close to 100 beets that I transplanted from the winter sowing containers.
Cold Frame Beets

There’s Bull’s Blood, Cylindrical and Early Wonder.

Cold Frame Beets 2

The swiss chard are lookin’ cute …

Cold Frame Swiss Chard

… but the tomato plant is pretty sad. I brought it out as a seedling to see how it would do if I transplanted it into the cold frame and … it didn’t do well. It didn’t die but it certainly hasn’t thrived. The ones I left under the flourescent lights then hardened off like normal are about 6 times as large.
Cold Frame Tomato

The one and only thing that actually grew for me under neglected conditions in the frame this winter was Mache. A cold hearty lettuce. In fact it loves cold so much that it’s already gone to seed.

Cold Frame Mache

Some of these radishes came up from seeds I put down last fall and some of them are new. They’re pink, purple and white radishes which is almost as exciting as one day becoming skilled enough with a razor to get rid of that knee hair.

Cold Frame Radishes

And finally it’s the broccoli I said I’d never grow again. I’m nothing if not an exceptional liar.

These little plants were in need of water so they’re a bit wilty but they’re fine. I’ll be using row covers on them to make sure those little white moths don’t lay their dirty, dirty eggs on them. Because those eggs quickly hatch into cabbage worms that are so small you can’t even see them. Or taste them. Then they get a lot bigger and you still can’t see them.

Cold Frame Broccoli
So the winter sowing was a success because it did a great job of letting my seeds sprout exactly when the conditions were right.  From there they were moved into another success the cold frame.

All in all so far this growing season has been a success.  Just ask the hair on my knee.


  1. Raro says:

    Please inform us whether your labeling method worked for the WS containers – packing tape over label. I’ve WS’ed the past two winters and one thing I’ve struggled with the the labeling. Also, if you end up WS again, see if you can scrounge up plastic containers to be recycled instead of buying new plastic. The hunt is half the fun! of course, for the persnickety, the uniformity of the containers you can buy is too much of a draw.

  2. Pam'a says:

    The reason your tomatoes crapped out is because they’re cold sissies. Even seedlings from a greenhouse, if put out when nights are too chilly/soil temps are too low, will put on a bad pout and take a good while to recover. Thus, you’re better off just waiting before you plant them outside.

  3. dana says:

    And I am going to make your beet salad but…. Im going to cheat & use canned beets.

  4. dana says:

    What the heck? An automatic hinge that opens by itself? Explain this to me. How did you know this even exists? Does it plug into an outlet?

  5. Karl Micheal says:

    Well, I cannot say anything about the shaving part of this…but might be able to help with another part of the story. If each time you mow the yard you hit the same rock over and over…I can tell you how to solve that problem…just pick it up and throw it out of the yard!! ;-) I crack myself up sometimes!! I so enjoy your posts. Keep them coming!!

  6. Patricia says:

    How about “toe bush”? Talk amongst yourselves!

  7. Tracie says:

    The very fact that I read “How to preserve moss” should give you an indication of how much I love you, Karen. My most fave posts are the crafty ones, I have to admit. I’ve even made a few of them, including the mirror planters (awesome). I won’t really be able to hold my head up high, though, until I master the “Fire pit.” That’s how I stumbled upon your site, I believe….Saw you on Steven and Chris. Love, love, Steven and Chris. And you, of course. Who else, I ask, would actually have a heat-activated hinge? Looking forward to seeing your entire kitchen reveal… in love with everything so far.

  8. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    You can lay a heated floor..and tile over that..install a vacuum stem..install central air..raise chickens and grow an amazing garden..and remodel your kitchen..but you can’t shave one little hair off your knee..You had better help her with this one

  9. michelle r says:

    Hair on your knee?? It`s the one little bugger under my chin.
    Nice cold frame by the way

  10. Vicky says:

    Pluck the buggar! The hair on my legs stopped growing about 5 years ago. Don’t know why and don’t care.

  11. Barbie says:

    First thing I did was pull up my pant leg to check my knee hair! LOLOL!

  12. Susan Whelan says:

    If I ever won the lottery the first place I would spend money is Lee Valley. Come to think of it, any time I have money the first place I spend it is Lee Valley. And not only do I not work at Lee Valley or have anything to do with them, other than a repository for my excess cash, they are half a country away from me which is sad.
    Knee hairs are much more palatable and far less likely to be noticed than the one inch chin hair that everybody can see but you. Happy menopause to all you reasonably hairless women! You can stop worrying about your leg hair because your legs get so veined you can’t see them but you’ll be checking your chin in the mirror three times a day. If Karen’s veggies grew as fast as facial hair on women she could feed the world.

  13. Stacy.P says:

    “I’m nothing if not an exceptional liar.” HA!
    Never say never! Broccoli is worth a second (thrird and maybe even a fourth) try!

  14. Safetydog says:

    That heat-activiated hinge is a great idea. I’ve thought about building a cold frame, but couldn’t imagine how temps would be controlled, especially if I’m not home all day.

    I also have a renegade hair, above my heel, so I never see it. Although it’s not as bad as the hair on my chin which I never see until it’s long and flowing.

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