In the recent Organic Garden Connect Newsletter was an article on making your own Cold Frame as an easy way to extend your growing season.
They pointed out the simplest frame used straw bales arranged into a square shape with glass or framed plastic laid on top to make the cover.
I would NOT recommend this shape of cold frame to anyone who lives in my area (zone 7) or any where there’s lots of humidity.
I thought of and used this box design ONCE — many years ago. AND although I wasn’t a “newbie” gardener — I was new enough at it that I didn’t foresee the difficulties.
Our area is humid and when its cold — it’s a damp cold. The box-like cold frame held more dampness than is healthful and did not allow the air circulation plants need to be healthy. As a result, all kinds of problems occurred.
In 33 years of growing lettuce, that is the only time mine ever had aphids. They multiplied so quickly I could hardly keep up with them.
Although the tops were off the cold frame at every opportunity it just didn’t help. The inside didn’t get the circulation necessary for healthy crops. The lettuce showed it. It was not the robust lettuce I was use to.
Also, had more slugs than ever.
With an easy adjustment the design will work much better. The small bales of straw will come apart in squares so it takes little effort to adjust the design.
Use full sized bales for the North side of the cold frame. (That will be the highest side.) For the two sides extending from the North side, start with a full bale and take apart bales as necessary to arrange the sides to slant at an angle as shown in the drawing below. The South side will not be very high – only a few inches. Arrange your windows or frames with plastic on top as shown.
If temps drop extremely low, you can put more straw around the edges of the windows or frames to add more temporary insulation.
This design of cold frame is easy to put together and easy to deal with. It allows for good air circulation. Just leave the tops off as much as the weather will allow. I used it for at least 10 years and can tell you it works very well.
To see the cold frames I currently use check out these posts:
Thanks to Bill for doing this sketch so I could get this post up quickly and give you a visual example.
Organic gardening is easy, efficient and effective AND — a lot healthier.
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