I’ve had some sort of cold frame or another for a few years now and I know I couldn’t live without them.
However you remember how unhandy we are here? But as I always say “I have never let what I don’t have hold me back”, and cold frames are no exception. Here’s a rundown on the types I have tried over the years:
The basic :I have had straw bales positioned to form a square with the center open for a growing space and a window placed on top. Works well for a budget, although straw bales are $10 now so there is that to consider when you need 6.
The rough build : I stacked two pallet frames on top of one another after removing the center boards. That leaves you with 4 large squares. I filled those squares with compost and soil. I planted lettuces and tatsoi and spinach here. I did the same with a third pallet but covered that one with greenhouse plastic, stapled it, and placed it on top. Again, it worked well, cost was minimal as pallets were free, and I always have a roll of greenhouse plastic on hand for my temporary hoop house anyway. It was hard to vent in the summer and I just ended up leaving the top off after a while. Also it wasn’t big enough and it worked for early spring but definitely not for all winter.
The 5 star: I got tired of not having a greenhouse that wouldn’t blow away on our little island to grow greens all winter. So cue my trusty carpenter on speed dial Laurie Foster, and some cold frame measurements from Niki Jabbour’s book “Growing Under Cover” and “Voila!”-now we have a 5 star permanent cold frame. It cost $180 in materials and $50 in labor. I have recouped those costs in produce in a year. It is used all four seasons, but needs to be vented in the summer because of its south facing place on our property. It has grown amazingly perfect carrots, kale (way too tall to keep in there but great to start there), spinach, tatsoi, arugula, and lettuces. It keeps these all out of reach of our free ranging chickens, as well. I sow quite thickly in the spring and once second leaves are formed on the seedlings, I thin them and move the thinned ones to the garden. They grow much slower which is great for always having greens ready to eat.
My favorite part of the cold frame is sowing seeds for spinach and hearty lettuce in late August and eating off the plants all winter. Nothing like frozen spinach leaves in January picked fresh!
We are getting ready to build another as low , wind proof structures like cold frames do very well here on the island for growing.
Always bloom where you are planted, my dear friends 😁
Love Jenn xx
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