The Winter Cold Frame.
An update!

Cold Frame In Winter



One day, a girl named Karen, a girl very much like you, and you, and you, put on her boots and went outside to start her garden.

It wasn’t a regular garden like dad used to plant in the summer. It was a special garden.  Karen was creating the most magical of all gardens, the winter garden.

First she built a house for her plants so they would be protected from the blowing snow and the winter’s chill that bites at your nose.

Then she planted her seeds row by row.

Mustard Greens and beets and lettuce galore!  For the rest of the winter they’d grow more and more!

After the seeds were settled snug in their soil, Karen went back into her warm house.

Some time after that, everything went to shit.



Cold Frame In Winter 1

This is my cold frame as it looks today.  I figured it would be a good day to check on what was inside because the snow had melted and the Polar Votex was long gone. Oops. The Polar Vortex is now back. That didn’t take long.
Cold Frame In Winter 2


While this little bed of Mache might look impressive or at the very least encouraging, it isn’t.  This mache stopped growing around November and has stayed the same size since then.  There’s exactly enough for a for a very small family of gerbils to use as garnish on their meals with for about a day and a half.


Mustard Greens

This would be my mustard greens.  They didn’t die from the cold.  They died (or withered up like a post-menopausal vagina) from lack of water.

Because I didn’t water the cold frame.



Cold Frame Left

I was kind of under the impression that it would somehow water itself.  That the humidity in there was build up and drip down and there would be sort of a watering system.  I also though that that  when it rained or snow melted that the ground underneath would absorb water from all around and stay moist.

I was so wrong.  You can see in the picture above that a few areas did get water, just not enough.

Cold Frame Right

The swiss chard I transplanted into there in the fall is still alive with nice greens.  It isn’t enough to eat, but with any luck the plants will continue to live and I’ll be way ahead of schedule with they shoot up into full grown plants in the spring.


Swiss Chard


The beets.  The beets!  The beets were a disaster.

Cold Frame Beet



The beets in the cold frame are withered and all of the greens are dead.  I’m pretty sure even the gerbils would turn their whiskers up at it.

Cold Frame Beet 2


On the OTHER hand, the beets I left outside of the cold frame, to be protected (and watered) only by a thick layer of snow were perfect.  I brushed the snow away and started picking.

They still had nice fresh greens on them and were pretty firm.  Definitely edible.

Beets Under Snow


The snow beets did great just left to their own devices outside in the garden.  The cold frame beet, which you can see at the bottom of the below photo was gross.  My interference with it by forcing it to live in a cold frame upset it a great deal and it revolted by dying back and shrivelling up.


Snow Beets

The other mistake I made was putting a new window on the cold frames. I was SO excited to get the beautiful Mennonite built window from my neighbour that I couldn’t resist putting it on the frames I made last summer. The problem is, this window didn’t fit making my cold frames almost completely inefficient.

I’ll make a new large, single cold frame next year, plant my cold frame crops  a bit earlier and try it all again.


Karen was sad to discover her plant’s house didn’t protect them through the winter. Cold, teary and with her socks bunched up in the toes of her boots, she came inside and started a new plan for next year.

Because there’s no such thing as an unsuccessful plan. There are just plans that haven’t become a success yet.

The end.


  1. AJ says:

    Hello everyone, I am new to the blog. I read a book by Caleb Warnock titled Backyard Winter Gardening. I tried both the hot box and cold frame method the book suggested in Kansas. Boxes were in the garden from October through March 1 and we never had to water them. Opened them every three weeks to check and harvest peas and lettuce. The book goes into detail as to how to construct the boxes. We had some plants that were too leggy due to October being unusually hot that year, and it did not occur to me to open the boxes on those days! Otherwise most of the plants grew well, slowly, but well. I tried the same box idea on my elevated garden boxes but the soil froze about January and killed everything planted.

  2. Sheila says:

    Here’s another website that I’ve used – successfully – for winter sowing:

    One caveat – dogs love to toss around the growing jugs just for shits and giggles!!

  3. Bobbi says:

    So that’s why my post menopausal pap was ouchy.

  4. Kasia says:

    So the point of my comment before was Thank You! for cheering me up :)
    It’s amazing how people who have never met can affect each other on such a personal level…

    Need more wine now.

    • Karen says:

      That’s what I’m here for! To teach and to entertain. I’m a tentertainer. ~ karen!

      • Jacquie says:

        Your word “tentertainer” reminded me of a summer night many years ago spent in a tent with a long haired boy (not as sick as it sounds – I was a girl at the time, not the old wrinklie I am now). Happy days indeed :-)

  5. Kasia says:

    I think is this is one of your funniest posts ever! …. of course, maybe it was my bad day at work, and the glass of wine in my hand along with your undeniable humor, that made it even better … nah, it is funny (post-menopausal vagina!?! LMFAO!!! …. can I use that phrase on here??) I need more wine….

  6. Barbie says:

    ”withered up like a post-menopausal vagina” That scares me a little a lot. (a Southern term) LOL
    Also that dried up looking beet…..well…it conjured up a mental image as well……

  7. Bols says:

    Does post-menopausal vagina require watering??? Please do tell.

  8. Sera says:

    Well, I was inspired by your cold frame but never did anything about it, which is good because I have no doubt it would be as successful as yours. I have come to accept that I am a fair weather gardener. My dead tomato plants are still tied to their bamboo stakes because I never “closed” the garden in the fall.
    But I love that this failure doesn’t get you down. You are an inspiration!

  9. kathy says:

    O.K., you might roll your eyes that a girl in coastal California would be envious of your garden, but this year, with 5% of normal rain, we’re having to water our gardens or watch them perish from unusually freezing temps (yeah, laugh, but for us, 22 degrees F was a shock to the plants)….and now because of the lack of rain, we have to conserve another 20% on water, so come April/May, I’m not likely to be allowed to plant my veggies! This is enough to make me come sneak into your cold frame to live…..and enjoy water. And, my first serious attempt at winter cole growing seems to be supporting…….quail? slugs? defoliation of a serious nature. Oh, well, at least it’s my 20% conservation in the winter veg garden – stop watering one bed!

    Send us water, please!!!!

  10. Feral Turtle says:

    I am impressed you could even find your cold frame!! I am still contending with the four foot drifts in the yard. Luckily my Bogs seem to float on top so I don’t sink!! And my feet stay toasty warm even though my socks are all bunched up.

  11. Jenniferm says:

    I think I would have made the same mistake. When I start seedlings they don’t need water if I have the greenhouse effect.

    BTW, your Bottom ad is very pervasive, and I just couldn’t get to your post until several attempts because I kept touching the ad. It’s impossible to read your post in Feedly because of it.

  12. JebberJay says:

    Oh Karen. Thanks for sharing. I feel sorry for the gerbils.

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