Last week we learned about cold frames. We learned how they work, what they are made of, and what their purpose is. This week we will learn about crops that can be grown in them.
Most of the crops Americans like are chill sensitive crops, they do not thrive below 50 degrees: think peppers, tomatoes, and corn. To find crops that will grow in the cold, a seasoned gardener will look to Europe for variety.
European gardeners have been making gardening work in the winter for a long time. Some popular crops that come from this experience are: Mache, Escarole, Endive and Radicchio.
Mache, known as corn salad, is a sweet, nutty juicy green. In 17th century France it was first seen as a weed, growing in fields, of corn, rye and wheat. Its cold hardiness was identified and it became domesticated in home gardens.
Escarole and Endive are in the same family of crop and their names are often interchanged. Endive has a lacy leaf, and is a bitter green. Escarole has a broad leaf, and is less bitter.
Radicchio looks similar to a red cabbage. It has red leaves and white stems, is bitter and spicy. It is a vegetable that is best grilled or roasted.
In addition to these exotic vegetables, many of our common vegetables work well in a cold frame. Salad, Spinach, Carrots, Leeks, Beets, Radishes, Turnips, Kale, and Chard all grow well in a cold frame.