Friday, November 21, 2008

Cold frame Setup

Well, it has been one mighty cold couple of days. It is not unheard of for my area to have lows of -10c(14f) in November but the last few years makes it certainly seem unusual. Even with the temperatures I decide to put the cold frame out anyway and see what happens.

I built the frame about 6 inches higher then is recommend so I could bury it into the soil for added insulation. I dug the hole, placed it in and then back filled around the outside. I then raked out the soil inside, put the cheapo thermometer in and shut the lid.

After about an hour I headed back out and the temperature was holding at 0c(32f) with the outside temperature being -5c(23f). I then checked again just before sunset and it was holding at -2c(29f) with the outside temperature being -7c(19.5f). I will be checking again later this evening and early tomorrow morning.

This is obviously nowhere near a consensus of the temperature range of the frame but I am pretty sure I will not be starting seeds anytime soon. If the outside temperatures stays in the range they have been I will not be starting any seeds until march I'm guessing. Now if we go back to the temperature we have been having the last couple weeks I may be able to start some baby greens. Only time will tell I guess. Either way if I can not use it right way it will most definitely come in handy in March when the sun and temps are stronger.

On another note I have started to read two of Eliot Coleman's books, 'The New Organic Grower' as well as 'Four-Season harvest.' He runs a four season farm in Maine, US and has mastered the technique of four season growing in a climate that is harsher then mine. What I can gather from glancing over the books is he plants from Aug-Oct for winter harvest and then basically holds over the crops in the cold frame or in his case movable greenhouses. So in other words I should have built the cold frame in Sept and seeded no later then Oct.

I will keep updating on the frame as things progress as well as do a post on how I built the frame next week. I also have some fall bulb posts in draft that I will be posting over the next few days.


  1. That is one beautiful cold frame. Well built, too. I'd be envious if I weren't sitting on the patio right now, in 80F weather, sipping an iced tea and just dreaming about my 2009 garden ;-)


  2. I concur. It is a beautiful cold frame. We had some windows replaced recently and I kept two of the panes (2;x4' each) to make a cold frame. But I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe before the spring.

  3. Granny - Thanks. Ah yes, patio weather, it is a long time off for me.

    Daphne - Thanks as well. A 4x4 cold frame would be a great size, mine is only 3'x4'. Good luck with your project.

  4. Dan, it looks great! Almost too nice to let sit in the cold winter and dirt. lol...

    You will be putting seeds in there before you know it. It sure seems like time flies these days...

  5. Skeeter - Time does fly. That is until Feb when it seems to stand still.

    I did have some hesitation about sticking it in the dirt hole but in it went anyway.

  6. Man Dan, that is one cool coldframe! Very well built. And those temp differences are far better than I was getting from my hoop covers!

    By the way, I hope you don't mind that I emailed a pic of it to EG to get him to build one of his own. Of course I gave you full credit.

    Anytime you want to come over and turn my 4 windows into coldframes, be my guest! hehe

    Thanks for sharing, sorry your other veggies didn't do so well. Could have placed the cold frame over the bed you wanted to keep safe. Would have worked well I think.

    Oh, and I'm glad you got a ton out of Colman's books. I'm on Four Season Harvest and it's driving me insane. I hope he gets to the point soon, hehe.

  7. Whoa! Dan, that is very impressive...good job! I'll have to build a couple of fairly large ones for my fall garden next year, and can't wait to see all of your construction details. Thanks for sharing!


  8. I don't think I've ever seen a prettier cold frame.

  9. OK, I have no idea what a cold frame is. But I'm guessing that is because I live in California and it never gets cold here.

    Good excuse, right?

  10. You have constructed a beautiful cold frame , will be interesting to see what happens and what you can start early .

  11. sinfonian - I wish I put up hoop covers over the other falls crops, I think they would have made it through the cold spell then.

    eg - Large ones would be nice, I would have made a bigger one if I could have found a larger window. I think I will try a hoop cover next fall the size of one of my beds.

    Sandy - Thanks, I'd be open to trading it for your greenhouse. :-)

    LeighAnn - yeah I don't think you would need cold frames in California.

    Rosemary - It will be a fun experiment. It will really come in handy for staring cole crops very early next spring.