Monday, November 21, 2011

Frame Out the Cold

Our two rear raised beds covered with Matt's movable cold frames

If your looking to extend your growing season, now is the time to install cold frames in your growing area.  Often used as a separate, permanent structure to start plants the cold frame can instead be incorporated into your garden space.  Hoops made of PVC and covered with opaque plastic are a common solution.  The opaque plastic lets light in, and traps heat without cooking your plants, unless the weather warms to the upper sixties or so.  Here's an idea my husband came up with on the fly for  cold frames that allow super easy access and venting.  Some years ago he constructed two movable cold frames that we can switch between our four raised beds from year to year with our crop rotation or we can break them down and store them for the summer.. 
The diagonal 2X2 shown at front of the raised bed above is actually the resting position of the swinging leg that holds the lid open.
This past year they covered the two left beds, and we used frost fabric later in the season to help start quick crops like radishes.  Each cold frame started as four separate raised sides with hardware cloth that Matt made to keep the rabbits out.  Our raised beds are 4X8, so there are two 16" tall  4 foot long sides and two 8 foot long sides for each.  These are attached, and removed from the raised beds with a screw gun. To make the cold frame   He made an  extension that screws into the top of  the long back side of each.The hinged top lifts easily and props itself up with swinging legs attached to each end.  These can rest on the ground to let in a little cool air,  atop the sides for working in the beds, or flipped all the way over for very warm day's with too much wind to leave them propped up.

Once the weather warms enough we remove the top, but can leave the plastic covered sides up for a while to help keep the soil temperatures up, and  flea beetles etc down.         Yesterday we took advantage of the nice weather to go out and plant our Swiss Chard inside the cold frame and our shallots in the space our frame was last season.  It's still not too late for this season, or you can use the quite of the winter season to plan one  for early spring.  The frame will allow you to start planting as early as March.  Not into do-it-yourself?  You can contact Matt at The Living Wood Workshop for help. 

1 comment:

  1. Love these photos of your garden through the seasons! Beautiful.