Warm hearts, coldframes

So a huge shout out to Kit at diydiva.net, who I will shamelessly plug – for giving me one of the coolest Christmas gifts ever.  What plant nerd wouldn’t be excited to walk into the office on a Friday and see this waiting for them?  (She wasn’t even there to see my reaction!)

More context on why I’m excited about this: I was just about to replace my coldframe.  About two years ago Mike had given me a gift of a plastic coldframe for overwintering pots (or starting flower beds early in spring) — which works surprisingly well, only involved a little bit of swearing to assemble, but was not what one would call overly sturdy.  While this is not an actual picture of the coldframe in action, I borrowed an image from the Amazon listing to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

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This cold frame was made of corrugated plastic panels held together by aluminum trim pieces held together by tiny tiny screws.  Open at the bottom, it was light enough to transport easily but always felt incredibly unstable unless you had the lid closed and locked down.  The critical flaw, as it turns out, was the ability to stake the thing down.

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The combination of the relatively small staking spikes and a trending topic on Pinterest (hugelkultur) led me to dig up a flower bed in the fall, bury a bunch of branches and compost, and then have the great idea to put the coldframe overtop of it to maybe help speed along the branch decomposition on the mound over the winter and spring.  Loose soil, small stakes, giant windsail sheets of plastic, all resulted in this:

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… that would be half of the old coldframe’s panels in a twisted heap by my trash pile.  The other panels are, I suspect, in the trash piles of various neighbors after a recent winter week where we had winds in excess of 50 miles per hour.  The wind caught the box enough to rip it out of the ground, and then proceeded to shred the thing apart.  I MIGHT have been able to try to reassemble it, but given how unsteady and unstable it was prior to this adventure, I wasn’t overly confident.

I don’t think my amazing coworker/manager/friend at work knew anything about this when she set about building me this as a Christmas present… a custom built “mini greenhouse” from a reclaimed window, cedar, and corrugated plastic panels.  (Which can be painted and/or sealed, I’m informed, after the cedar has weathered a bit.)

The combination of someone’s personal geekery to compliment my nerdery, in a weirdly wonderful moment where I actually needed exactly that specific thing was just too awesome and I can’t get over how touched I am about it.  And how excited I am that I was able to fit it in my car, but you can see that I already started loading it with pots from the garage…. (hostas I had left over from dividing them in the fall, an extra white coneflower, a few small pots of perennial cuttings I rooted last summer that I’m hoping established enough to survive their first winter, etc.)  I started filling it even before I took the bow and tag off, although I’m frequently accused of being awful about removing the stickers from things.

So, if nothing else, help me drive some traffic to her far-more-successful blog over at diydiva.net and read about her adventures renovating her giant farm house, spending quality time with the worlds cutest donkeys, raising chickens, bees, starting a vineyard, and other entertaining adventures.  Thanks, Kit!!!  I love it.

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