Gardening guru Eliot Coleman, author of Four-Season Harvest, asserts that “the basic cold frame is the most dependable, least exploited aid for the four-season harvest.” And the good news is that you can construct a homemade cold frame without much effort. Why not make a weekend project of it?
A cold frame is a simple structure, often made with recycled materials—which means you can construct one without spending much on supplies. You can use bricks or even reclaimed wood from an old barn or deck for the sides, and you can use an old window for the slanted top. Just use hinges to attach the wood frame of the window to the base of your cold frame.
Gardeners who are trying to become more food self-sufficient and buy fewer veggies from the grocery in the off-season store will love the advantages a cold frame provides. Even in chilly winter months, a cold frame will keep vegetables such as spinach and lettuce healthy and harvestable. If you already have these crops in your garden, you can simply place a cold frame over the top of them. If not, try planting into the cold frame as you would a raised bed, and enjoy fresh food from your own yard several weeks earlier in spring and later in fall than you would otherwise.
If you’re trying to decide which crops to grow in your homemade cold frame, start with greens and other cold-hardy crops such as beets, carrots and turnips. For more ideas, consult It’s Fall: Plant Cool-Season Vegetables.
Photo by Istockphoto/SkyF
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