Extend the Growing Season with a DIY Cold Frame

Cold Frame by Two Barn Farm

Depending on the climate you call home, you may have already noticed cooler temperatures as we inch towards fall. Even in tropical areas, temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s have already been seen at night. With September having arrived, it is time to face the reality that fall is quickly approaching. The November 1st Daylight Savings deadline is also looming less than a month away. The question that remains is have you gotten an adequate yield from your garden thus far and if not, do you want to attempt new techniques to keep it going once the weather begins to interfere?

If you wish to continue your growing season beyond what nature wishes to allow as many of us do, one way to do so is by trying a cold frame. Although most cold frames will be small due to the nature of components, it is possible to create more than one as space allows. It is also possible that you can create them in large part or completely of items you already have on hand, saving you money in the process.

The goal of a cold frame is to collect localized warmth in an area that will allow veggie garden growth. Essentially you are creating a greenhouse of sorts in that the elements cannot penetrate, barring sunshine which is vital to the success of a cold frame. The sides will block out wind and the top will serve as an entry point for sunshine as well as warmth, collecting it and once inside allowing it no escape so that plants can stay comfortable even when the external weather is not conducive to growth.

There are many ways to build a cold frame, but one in particular is cheap, easy, and non-permanent. In order to get started, you will need a few bales of straw and one or more panes of glass depending on the size you wish for your cold frame to be. Glass can come from many sources such as old windows or even a sliding door. If you do not have any, check out your local antique store as they can be a great source for this item. Once acquired, the glass will need to be supported by the bales around the edges, so be sure to measure before you plant so that everything will correspond. Create solid exterior walls with the straw bales and use the pane of glass on top and basically you will be done. That is all there is to it.

Since the glass is in place to protect plants and keep them warm, do keep in mind that you will not be able to rely on nature for water. It will be up to you to provide this on your own in order to keep plants hydrated as they require. Be sure to keep the glass clear of leaf litter and other possible falling debris so that it is able to do its job and always use care when handling it so as not to break it and/or cut yourself.

By putting a little bit of money and energy into a cold frame, you and your family can enjoy extra veggies going into the cooler parts of the year. Rather than throw in the towel, throw in a cold frame! Don’t forget that it will be once again useful when spring rolls around, giving you an early option for starting your veggie garden outdoors. Being useful at two different times of the year for delicious veggie production makes the addition of a cold frame an asset that is hard to pass up.


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