In school I have been reading about cold frames, low and high tunnels, and greenhouses. I have visions of picking lettuce from cold frames in the winter. Last year we successfully planted spinach, arugula and kale; we kept them under frost clothes and even under the weight of the snow they kept producing. I am assuming that a cold frame will be even better.
If you don’t know what a cold frame is, basically it is a box with a window on the top. You can build the frame with bales of straw even; they don’t have to be fancy. Just be sure you don’t use treated wood or railroad ties. Your soil can leach the chemicals from these. Also, old windows can be an issue if they have lead paint. Make sure your materials are “clean” and the building is simple.
Measure the window and start cutting your wood. Ours are flat boxes. Some make them slanted, which is really nice; I was in a better done than perfect mood, so I took the simple route.
After your pieces are cut, start laying them out and screw the piece together in the corners. Screws are better for this than nails for holding power. I used deck screws because they are made for exterior, and we had bunches of those left over too!
We then lined the boxes with black plastic. This will warm the soil up a bit over the next 7 days. We had worked the soil the day before so it is ready for planting after the plastic comes up.
I cleaned up the windows a bit. They had old sawdust, drywall dust, critters and who knows what else on them!
We simply laid the windows on the top. We did not hinge them although that would be nice and something we will probably do at a later date. It was 30 degrees and mist was coming down before the change over to the snow, so we were playing “beat the elements!” The ability to open these up is necessary because on sunny days, the boxes need to vent; otherwise you might cook your vegetables. For now I will lift the windows and put blocks of wood in each corner or simple slide off.
Jasmine joined us in our building adventure. I think she wondered if we were building lots of doggie houses out there.
I really love our low tunnels (which are full of veggies right now!) and our cold frames. These will get used early in the spring as well. I will share some planting pics next week.
Do you use any of these things (or others) to extend your season?