The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

Project: Cold Frame

2 Comments

Late last Fall my husband, ever thoughtfully thinking of me, chanced upon some discarded windows on the side of the road. He picked them up knowing that I have been kicking the idea around of constructing some sort of cold frame – and that’s exactly what we used them for.

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Although we started this project early in the Spring, we didn’t finish until well into the growing season but it made me reconsider hinging the windows onto the frame so that I could still use the frame as a planting bed during the height of summer.

We built a simple frame out of 2×6 pine. The base is 6″ high and the top is 12″ high. The sides are a 2×6 cut on a diagonal. To build the frame we referred to a wonderful article in Fine Gardening on how to construct a cold frame (see video link here). We did not spend much. This cold frame is an experiment for me, much like all gardening in my view. I think you can read and learn from other sources, maybe even mimic them exactly, but it will be your experience and experimentation that will ultimately teach you the “zen of gardening.”

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Making sure the windows fit the base.

During the summer I grew peppers in this windowless frame. Now that fall has arrived and the peppers are done, the windows top the frame. Even during cloudy days they steam. I hope to learn when to vent this cold frame instinctually, but automatic solar venting devices might prove to be a better option. I figure if I “take” to cold climate gardening I may invest a little more into my next cold frame which will be higher allowing for taller plants.

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I planted a variety of greens including spinach, swiss chard, broccoli rabe, curly and lacinato kale on October 18th. I thought I might have been too late in my planting but all six rows have already sprouted!

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I planted greens that I felt could grow in much colder weather but it will be interesting to see the actual results of this experiment – of course, I’ll keep you “posted.” Over the Winter I will also be studying Eliot Coleman’s The Winter Harvest Handbook in depth. If you are not familiar with Eliot Coleman, he is an expert in year-round cold climate gardening. He resides in Maine!

So, while the leaves are turning and continuing to fall, I’m looking forward to some green!

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Wild Grapes

Come Spring I hope to start seeds in this cold frame but that’s another experiment for another day.

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Author: Kathy Sturr

Author of the Violet Fern blog, artist, and master gardener.

2 thoughts on “Project: Cold Frame

  1. I'm looking forward to reading how this goes. I would love to have fresh, home-grown greens in the late fall/winter.

  2. I too have been reading Eliot and wanting a coldframe. But I do not have the space as the garden is laid out, but that may change as I have an idea now…can't wait to hear how it goes.

Thank you for joining me in the making of my garden!

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