28 Sep. 1991|
Building raised bed cold frame,veneer wood chipper,diy platform bed frame twin,lotro westfold woodworker guide - For Begninners
The Hudson Valley Seed Library has a fairly good set of directions for building a cold frame on their site (in their blog post Seed-Starting 101: Part 4 of 6, March 11, 2010). The Seed Library cold frame (CF) is meant to be put on the ground and is designed to be 4’ wide x 8’ long.
My beds are also too wide to efficiently use the clear polycarbonate panels the Seed Library directions recommend for the CF lid.
Using a 2×4 for the back edge of my cover frame solved the problem of the bed being too wide for the polycarbonate panels. 1) I had some trouble getting the individual sections (it takes 4 sections to cover an 8’ frame) to line up perfectly with each other.
2) The spaces between the wavy cover & frame are filled using a cheap foam material that’s somewhat difficult to use. 3) If the bottom of a trough doesn’t match exactly with the lid frame edges there are gaps that need to be filled in with caulk, weather stripping or a similar product. When I put the frame on my raised be frame I noticed that almost the whole bed was in shade.
A cold frame will allow plants in it to survive for the winter, but it will still be too cold for the plants in the cold frame to grow much or at all. So for this year the main purpose of my cold frame will probably be to give me a very early spring harvest. I know these are called Cold Frames so you probably aren’t thinking you need to worry about it getting too hot in your cold frame. With a cold frame like this, you can grow greens and other cool-season vegetables right through the winter. I began serious exploration of winter cold-frame gardening back in 1981 when I took the job of farm manager at a private school in Vermont. The back of the frame is cut higher than the front so the angled lights can catch the slanting winter sun. Instead of beaing locked in frozen earth, cold-frame leeks are a cinch to harvest, and more of their flesh remains edible.
Probably the most important point in using a cold frame is to start your plants early enough. I’ve made a couple of rather rough & tumble cold frames in previous years out of salvaged materials.
For those of you unfamiliar with cold frames, a cold frame is essentially a mini-greenhouse that you can build on the ground or on a raised bed. I used their directions as a starting point for building my cold frame, but discovered some issues which I’ll pass on to you.
I make, and recommend making, raised beds designed to have a planting area that’s 4’x10’ which means the frame is 4’3” x 10’3”. This works just fine if you’re making an 8 ft long frame, but the longest 2×2 board commercially available is 8 ft long, too short for my frame. This difference in the height between the front and back of the CF is done both to allow better sun exposure of the covered bed and to allow water to drain off the lid.
A first I couldn’t understand why, but I realized I hadn’t accounted for the soil being 3” below the top of the raised bed frame.
This gave me the proper slope for the cover and overall height for the frame, but didn’t block the sun. So if you really want to get a winter harvest you need to have the plants reach harvest size before it gets too cold.
This was a problem for me as all of my beds properly positioned for a cold frame still had other plants growing in them at this time. For next year, I’ll plan for the cold frame bed to be planted with veggies that will be done by early October.
However, on an sunny, but still cold day, it’s entirely possible for the temperature inside the CF to get hot enough to kill your plants.
I site the frames with the lights sloping toward the south in a spot where they will have as much winter sun as possible. In times of extreme cold, an insulated, reflective cover over the frames at night is helpful as long as it’s opened during the day to let in the sun.
Cold frames can be used to extend the growing season at either end of the season, to provide winter harvests, for seed starting, and for hardening off plants you started indoors. I could have cut the panels to width of my beds, but that would have meant throwing away almost half of each polycarbonate panel, both wasteful and expensive.
Because I wanted to try out two different materials to cover the lid frame, I decided to make an 8’-long frame to cover most of the planting bed and a smaller one to cover the rest.
So if you’re building a CF for a raised bed, make sure you take into account the soil level.
From what I’ve read, and seen in my cold frame this season, that means the plants need to be harvest size by late November. And unlike my previous cold frames, which I used just to start plants in the spring or for hardening off, this one I wanted to use on one of my raised beds to try to get some winter harvest. Also if your CF is open and you’re away until after the sun goes down it can get too cold. My garden may be in Maine, but the plants in my cold frame think they’re in New Jersey.
I used wavy material on the main cold frame lid and the flat type on the smaller frame, so I could see which I like better. If you want to increase the number of things you can harvest, erect a plastic tunnel over the cold frame, which will make a quantum leap in protection and crop variety. Scallions are good, too—even better from the cold frame than from the outdoor garden. Even after all the years I’ve been growing in cold frames, I still marvel at the contrast of the weather outside and the bounty within.