Gardening

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Early summer brought the first real quantity of vegetables to the family's table since the garden had been planted in springtime. Lettuce, radishes and thin, green onions were among the earliest fresh salads since the last heads of cabbage had been eaten as cole slaw in late autumn.


Homemade cucumber pickles, canned relishes, sauerkraut, pickled beets and hot potato salad were the salads of winter.


Very early in spring, seeds for salad vegetables and summer garden plants were planted in a sheltered box on the south side of the barn where the sun would warm it during the day.


This little, temporary greenhouse, called a cold frame, was made up of boards for the sides and covered with an old glass window frame. Bales of straw were placed around it as insulation. A canvas and loose straw covered the window on cold nights.


During the day, depending on the temperature and the weather, the glass window could be opened part of the way or taken off, to adjust the growing conditions inside the box. The seeds and tiny plants grew rapidly in the soft earth, protected from the cold and warmed by the sun.


The family members had their first taste of spring vegetables this way, growing short rows of lettuce and other salad greens in a protected place. As the days grew longer and the danger of frost had past, the seedlings for summer vegetables were transplanted out into the garden, ready to grow.

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