A cold frame is a way to protect what you are growing from the harsh cold winds that old man winter blows in. At the same time it allows plenty of sunlight to get in, and if designed correctly will give your plants plenty of air through proper ventilation.
There are a number of websites and gardening centers that sell cold frames. They range from the inexpensive to the “very” expensive. I find, however, the most rewarding cold frame is one that you can build yourself.
Roger Marshall, author of the book How to Build Your Own Greenhouse, agrees.
Roger does his gardening in Rhode Island, and having been in the great Ocean State myself during a winter a few years ago, I know it can get very cold there. In the coldest of winter months of January and February, Roger has grown various greens and broccoli in a cold frame he built himself out of some old storm windows.
Here are photos of Roger`s cold frame:
He recommends a number of ways you can build easy to use cold frames, such as using straw and hay bales as well as using a side of a wall of your house. You simply use these items to form a garden bed. Just be sure to cover with some clear plastic to let the light in but keep the cold out yet easy enough to open up for daytime ventilation.
What about watering methods and other tips to make cold frame gardening a success? According to Jana Vanderhaar of Verdant Connections Landscape Architecture, “Water your veggies by hand, and don’t forget to open the cold frame during the day for ventilation and close again in the evening.” He continues on, “We grow many lettuce varieties, kale, chard, arugula, bok choi, tat soi, parsley, green onions, cilantro, and mache. The greens taste best once a frost has passed, because the nutrient density is increased. Yum!”
If you were thinking about hanging up your gardening gloves for the winter, think again. Cold frame gardening is a great way to keep going. Use some of these tips above to create your own cold frame and have a winter garden for yourself.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us. He has appeared on NBC, ABC and Fox helping vegetable gardeners save money through the Seeds of the Month Club.
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