Thursday, November 18, 2010

Building a Cold Frame

This year we missed out on the summers growing season because we were in an apartment. We are going to build a cold frame in hopes of being able to grow through the rest of the fall and into the winter. Come spring, we will be able to use the cold frame to start seeds and harden off little seedlings.

A cold frame is kind of like a mini greenhouse. It is low to the ground with a wooden base and a glass top. It is used to protect plants from cold weather. The glass top allows heat to get into the structure and prevents it from escaping.

Isn't this one beautiful? Image from Sunset.com '    




Ours will look a little more like this

We checked the classifieds and found a used window for $35, it is about 2'x5'.
(it is covered in frost)

This is where we will clear out to place our cold frames. It is best if you place it close to an existing structure (for warmth) on the south side (for the best sunlight). 


 ~marisa




11 comments:

David said...

I've not tried to deal with extending the growing season yet. I'm getting close to trying though. It does seem to be the best way to continue to have fresh vegetables from the backyard garden. Our growing season here in Nebraska is only five month without trying to extend the season.

Have a great garden day.

Jacki said...

My husband built cold frames last spring, but we didn't have much to do with them. The plan was to have them ready for this fall. we wanted to plant all of our boxes full of greens, and keep the cold frames on throughout the winter, or until we'd eaten all of the greens. All of those plans fell by the wayside, though, when I got pregnant and was sick for the 6 week window we needed to plant it. :( Anyway, we'll be putting them back up in spring, hopefully to harden off seedlings and get an early start on some seeds, as you plan to do. Check out our unique design here: http://modernwench.com/2010/04/04/gardening-part-4/ or just check out my "garden" tag on my blog. Maybe something there will inspire you or help you in some way.

Michelle said...

I love cold frames! They are so easy to make and use.

Rick said...

Cold Frames are awesome! I have 3 frames and two hoop houses. This is my second year of winter gardening in zone 5 Utah. If you get everything planted in August and September you will have a bounty all winter long. We are currently eating a salad every day and have spinach, lettuce, mache, carrots, Pac Choy, Kale, Swiss Chard, Kohlrabi, and even some broccoli. If you plan it right you can have something from your garden every day of the year and every vegetable tastes better in the cool winter temperatures. Have Fun!!

marisa said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!!! I'm even more excited than before.

Andrea said...

We just built four cold frames. We will put them inside the hoop house for added warmth in our zone 5. It cuts down the light somewhat, but if we have a winter like we did last year, the plants can use all the extra warmth they can get! Good luck. Looks like you might need just a tiny bit of site prep around the house?!!

marisa said...

Andrea, ha ha ha...maybe just a "tiny bit" of prep work.

Aly said...

Thanks for sharing! I've wanted to try this as well. I hadn't thought of using and old window -- great idea! It's got me thinking though. My dad owns a glass shop that I worked at for years. When looking at your used window, I am wondering if it has Low-e glass, and if that will play a factor in the efficiency of your cold frame? I could see it being a benefit as well as a possible problem. Low-e glass reflects radiant heat back to the source, so whichever side of the window is warmer is where the heat will reflect. Picture a house, in the winter the low-e glass reflects the heat back into the home, and the summer it will reflect it out. People also enjoy the benefits of Low-e for their carpets and curtains...it blocks harmful rays and protects them from fading. I'm just curious if anyone knows how it effects a cold frame, as I would like to make one as well :O).

Rick said...

Aly - In my opinion cold frames should be simple and cheap. The cold frame is more for protection from the wind and snow that any thing else. It is very possible to make it to hot in a cold frame and you would really struggle with high temperatures in the spring and fall with your low e glass. Also glass is heavy and hard to handle. My frames are made with plexi glass but I've even seen successful frames with lids made of 6 mil plastic.

marisa said...

Aly, how would I know if it is a low-e glass window. I would just want to make sure that it is facing the right way, right?

Rick, I agree...cheap and easy are my game! I will look into getting some plexi glass.

Holly said...

I really want to try this one year. We tried a greenhouse but with all the wind we get out here, it wasn't sturdy enough. This would be more practical!