This year, we (err…my husband) built several new raised beds for our vegetable garden. We use a combo of square foot gardening and biointensive methods, so raised beds work well for us (plus weeding in raised beds is so much easier). Since we want them to last a LONG time, we chose to use hard wood. It was quite an investment, but totally worth it for all the great food we’ll get from them! We filled them with a soil/compost mix and they did great for us this year.
We had enough wood leftover to make a small cold frame. We put it just outside the garage so we can access it easily in winter when the snow starts to pile up around here! It’s just perfect! Here are a few photos to show how my husband built it.
We used glass from some old windows that we found here on the property when we moved in a few years ago. My husband built a simple frame for it. The silicone gel he used to adhere the glass to the wood didn’t feel very secure once it dried, so he braced the glass down with those metal strips.
Here you can see how he propped the cover open with a length of wood. He notched out the wood and put a little bracket on the inside of the cold frame to make it extra secure (important when we have 3 little ones running around!), but still easy to take in and out.
I try to pick a few new homesteading skills to learn each year, and this year cold frame gardening is one of them. It requires a bit of technique in terms of timing of plantings, knowing when to keep the lid open or closed, remembering to water (ahem), etc. But I’m excited to learn all of those things this year! (I’ve already forgotten to open the lid during the daytime a few times…thankfully it seems pretty forgiving so far!)
You can see here that I’ve planted lettuce, carrots, spinach, leeks (transplanted from another raised bed) and parsley. I planted everything in late August. The carrots are just for fun…these won’t be high-yielding, as I don’t have a ton of space for them, but I want to see how they do in a cold frame. Unfortunately not all of the carrots or spinach sprouted, so I’ll replant those this week.
I’m most excited about having salad, hopefully year-round! And leeks are one of my favorites to cook with, especially in winter soups, but they never get big enough in our shorter summers. So took some from our main garden that were too small to use now, yet still healthy plants, and transplanted them over. I wasn’t sure how well they’d handle a transplant, as I haven’t done it with leeks before, but they are doing just fine!
With the cold frame all set up, we can extend our harvest through the winter. It should save us a little money on salad, and also give us truly fresh veggies during a season when what is in the store is shipped from far away. I’m excited to see how this little project goes! (And hopefully I don’t end up with fried salad by leaving the cover closed on a warm day!)
Do you have any experience using a cold frame? If so, please share! I’d love to hear your tips!