Thursday, October 27, 2011

Around the Yard: A Last Minute Cold Frame

I'm not a particularly handy person, which is probably why I was standing outside in my garden mid-October wondering what to do about a cold frame for my little raised bed of greens.


Or perhaps it had to do with my nature to over-plan things that made building a cold frame more complicated than it needed to be. I had visions of a lovely glass topped box with sliding windows, but building that reality was definitely outside of my skill set, especially at this late a date.


A quick trip to our local building center gave us all we needed to build a last minute cold frame for less than $13: some metal brackets, a few screws and narrow water piping. Also used in this venture were a few clothes pins and leftover floating row cover material.


Recipe: Screw brackets into the sides of your raised wooden bed. Cut two 10-foot lengths of tubing in half with an exacto knife to create four arches of support. Place tubing into brackets, sinking them into the dirt. Cover with your row cover material and use clothespins or whatever else you have on hand to secure the fabric to your tubing. We may or may not have also used a few metal binder clips from our office. Et, voila! The last minute cold frame:


Not exactly what you would call high fashion for the garden, but it has it's own charm. We covered it with the row cover fabric that we had on hand because I just couldn't bring myself to purchase plastic that would degrade after one season and end up in the landfill. I know that the fabric row covering will not raise the inside temperature of our little box of greens much, but then again, I'm not so sure it matters. We planted cold hardy greens, after all. I'm mostly looking to keep the wind and snow off of them at this point. They'll have to soldier through the cold on their own.


As for how this little cold frame will work out for spring greens, we'll just have to wait and see to find out! 

16 comments:

pathsofwrighteousness said...

I'm in the same boat . . . waited till the last minute and felt it was too complicated to get my greens covered. Even the thought of store-bought lettuce didn't compel me to get it in gear. :D

But THIS looks very do-able. Running to the store later, with some new items on my list.

Thank you!
~Jill

pathsofwrighteousness said...

Just updating . . . our 4 x 4 ft raised bed of lettuces took just two tubes. We used a clear shower curtain as the cover--perfect size!

Quick and easy! Thanks so much.
~Jill

Shanon Hilton said...

Hi Jill, Great idea with the shower curtains! I'm so glad you were able to put something together! Thanks for sharing. :) --Shanon

Barbie said...

I'll be doing the same in another 6-8 weeks. I never manage to think ahead enough. It's not a matter of not realizing it needs done it's finding the time before it's too late!

Madame C said...

I am also hopeless when it comes do handy... I always seem to rely on my husband...:)
Take care,
Charlotta

Liz - Suburban Tomato said...

I think it looks great, all lettuces should have one. I hope it works well for you!

Emily said...

Great plan. I used the same pipe and metal rods stuck in the ground to hold the ends. Last winter I covered with row cover, and then plastic left over from a painting project and the lettuces and greens survived the winter rebounding well in the spring. Good luck!

kitsapFG said...

I have essentially the same set up for my fall/winter beds but use a taller grow tunnel structure that uses 10 foot sticks of 1/2 inch electricians PVC inserted into metal brackets bolted to the bed frames. I use plastic covering because the heavy rains and snow will quickly wipe out anything less substantial and I keep my plants going straight through the winter. They actually do NOT degrade in one year in fact they will last for many many years if the plastic is actually taken care - no staples or other methods of attaching that tears the plastic, rinse it in the spring and let dry, carefully fold, and then put away out of the sun and element for the summer season. I have one piece of plastic covering that is out in the garden right now that is seven years old and going strong.

Shanon Hilton said...

Hi Kitsap, What kind of plastic did you use? Our small town does not have much for selection and my only option was something that wouldn't last our harsh winters (-40°C). I don't think our greens will be that cold hardy either. I'm *hoping* to have greens until early December! I'm glad you found something that is durable! --S

Daphne said...

I put row covers over some of my fall things too. This year the carrots and Asian greens will be covered.

Indrani said...

That must be cool to have a farm of your own. Living in flats, one can have only a balcony garden.

The 21st Century Housewife© said...

This is fantastic! Your cold frame looks perfect, and the fact that you did it so frugally too is amazing. How wonderful to have lovely fresh salad and greens through the cold weather! Thank you for sharing this post with the Gallery of Favorites.

Shanon Hilton said...

Hi Indrani - we're farming in more of an urban way right now: backyard, front yard, community garden plot - where ever we can find space. Our dream is a real farm, but until then... --S

21st Century Housewife - thanks so much for your comments. I really appreciate hearing them! --S

JO said...

so glad we leave in a condo... I don't have to worry about a garden.

~ Jo's Precious Thoughts ~

Lynn said...

I was just talking to my husband about making some covers like this! lol!!! I hope it works out for you.

~lynn

Shanon Hilton said...

Hi Lynn, That's great. So far it has worked just fine. The greens are wilted in the morning and bounce back as the sun warms them. It's amazing to see! Good luck on your covers!