Cold Frame (almost) Installed

Finally an outdoor garden photo!


The construction of the cold frame is done and we placed it in front of our house to the south and at the top of a slope. That place gets optimal sunlight during the winter, but not much during the summer, as it will be shaded for most of the day.  That’s not a problem, since this will be our frame for hardening off in spring and summer and for harvesting in winter and spring.


It’s almost 4′ by 8′ by 10″ and made of Douglas Fir boards and Freecycled storm windows (two made of glass and one – mercifully the biggest one – of plexi-glass). It’s based on Eliot Coleman’s design.

We’ll be fiddling around with it. For instance, we might add some heights in the back to give it some more height there (12″) and thus a slight slope toward the sun (Coleman doesn’t think this is necessary, so we’ve foregone it so far).

But we’re especially concerned with how to optimally open the “lights” (windows) for planting and harvesting. There are no hinges at the moment (keeping it as simple as possible), so it’s a “tilt/lift off” system that might not work with lights this large. We also still need to make a notched plank for propping the lights open for ventilation. I can see inside the frame from our bathroom window, and we’ll be adding a remote sensing thermometer, but having one of those solar powered vent openers will give peace of mind.

We’re not ready to go of course because… there is no soil in it yet! The soil underneath in will need to be dug out and some drainage needs to be laid at the bottom (gravel). We’ll remove the bulbs, grass, moss and weeds from the soil, add soil amendments and compost, and fill up the pit again so the soil will sit higher than at first.  I need to do some research as to how deep we’ll have to dig.

So I will have to decide whether that‘s where I want it, soon. As you can see there are gutter spouts on either side of it, and we’ll want to harvest that rain, so we’ll need to ensure that there will be enough space for barrels. Another consideration is that that’s the only free south-facing wall where we could put an espaldiered apple tree, Or a solar thermal collector…

DH will be away for business for a week, during which I can think these factors over and observe the temperatures and light in the frame, and our garden critters’ reactions to it.

I’m just happy it’s out there. I want to be out there too!

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