If you enjoy gardening, chances are you wish the growing season was just a little longer than what it really is. By building a cold frame for your garden, you’ll be able to start plants earlier in the spring and extend your harvest season in the fall. Building your own cold frame can actually be quite simple, even if you don’t have a lot of building or construction experience. Here are some factors to consider if you want to build a cold frame, as well as some tips you can use to get the job done quickly and easily.
Consider Your Needs
Before you jump right in and build your own cold frame, it’s important to consider your actual needs. Do you need an area where you can harden off the plants you start from seed before planting them in your garden? Or, would you just like an area where you could grow lettuce and other salad greens early in the spring and late into the fall? Your intended usage for the cold frame is a factor to consider when deciding on overall size, location and features. For example, if you plan to use the cold frame as a small greenhouse in the spring, you’ll want to make sure it is large enough to hold all your pots and planting trays. You might also want to locate the cold frame in close proximity to the garden area, making it easier to transport the plants to the garden when it comes time to plant. On the other hand, if you want to grow salad greens and herbs in your cold frame, it might be best to position it close to the home for the sake of convenience.
Choosing a Good Location
Regardless of whether it’s more convenient to locate your cold frame close to the house or the garden, you’ll want to pick a sunny area. Choosing a spot that has some natural protection from the elements, frost and wind can also be helpful. An area where the ground is flat or where it slopes slightly towards the sun would be a good choice. If you plan to plant directly in the soil under the cold frame, make sure you’ve chosen an area that has good soil. Good drainage is also an important consideration.
Designing and Building the Cold Frame
If you don’t have a lot of building experience, you might want to acquire plans for creating your cold frame. However, a simple cold frame can be quite easy to construct, so many times actual plans are not even needed. Basically, you’ll want to construct a box designed to sit directly on the ground, with sloping sides created by making angled cuts. Once the box has been constructed, you’ll also need to construct a lid for the cold frame. For the lid, a wooden frame designed to have plastic stapled to it can work well. You can then attach the lid to the base with hinges. If you have some old window panes, these can also work well as the lid.
Once the cold frame has been constructed, you can place your plants inside. By closing the lid when it gets cold at night and opening it during sunny warm days, your plants will have the best of both worlds.