How to Build a Cold Frame

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Introduction: How to Build a Cold Frame

Even during the winter one can grow greens and herbs just by using a cold frame.
Building a cold frame is easy!

The following is a brief explanation on how to build a cold frame and on how to prepare the soil for your winter garden.

Step 1: Initial Considerations

First thing to consider before building your cold frame is the location. Ideally it should be south facing to collect the warmth of the sun. Also, consider the wind, (windbreaks), and water,(drainage), elements.

Step 2: Building Your Cold Frame

1. Get yourself an old window frame with glass. Preferably 3-4 feet wide, so you can easily reach the back.
2. Construct a wooden frame that fits your window frame. Make the back of the frame higher than the front. Remember to use non-decomposing wood.
3. Attach the window frame to the wooden frame using heavy duty hinges.

Step 3: How to Prepare the Soil

Cold frames are hollow at the bottom and are placed on prepared soil.
1. Use a shovel to dig out small squares of the top soil. The area you dig will eventually be the same as the size of the cold frame.
2. Sift squares through a wire screen to filter out usable soil. Discard grass and rocks.
3. Then use a pitchfork to aerate the sub-soil.
4. Mix compost with the sub-soil.
5. Put the freshly filtered top soil back on the sub-soil.
6. Mix compost with the top soil.
7. Finally place your cold frame on top.

Step 4: Other Considerations

Warm weather: on a warm day you will need to prop open your cold frame's window for ventilation.

Step 5: Start Planting Your Garden

Now you have built an environment fit for your winter garden.

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    11 Discussions

     you can use red wood, used in building where it may come in contact with moister. red wood will deteriorate, but long after you are done with this.
    you can also use trex, it is a wood alternative used in decks. i think it's plastic or a mixture of plastic and other material, either way it looks like painted wood.

    Trex-style products are usually a plastic/wood dust combo. Cedar and Redwood are both rot resistant

    You know, turning your sod upside at the bottom of your little plot will add composted material and a bit of nitrogen for your plants. Not to mention preserving worms.

    How do you know at what angle the frame should be? That is, what are the considerations for angling the windows at a 0 percent slope vs., say, a 30 percent slope?

    I've read that too great a pitch (slope) causes hot spots that are not conducive to plant growth, while too low a pitch eliminates too much sunlight. In addition, I do wonder why not make a double sided cold frame...kind of a mini green house.

    Any insight would be much appreciated as I have some windows that I'd love to incorporate into a cold frame, but am unsure about the pitch issue.

    great idea.  I have used bales of straw positioned in a pattern that fits the old wooden storm door I found at the dump. this is not my idea I saw it in some garden forum years ago and  it works well  and I use the straw for mulch duing the heat of summer around my daylillies. I have a plank that was once a table top placed vertically that I hinge the door to, which is braced by the bales on the line of straw bales and use the old door pull to lift it which gives me acess to the plantings. all of the  door then sits on the  sides and front bales which provide wonderful insulation. quick and easy.
    thanks,
    james

    You can use redbrick and a little sand mix to line the perimeter of the box setting the box on top of your small wall and use caulk to seal between them both this way you could use just about any type of wood preferably oak is what i would use ..

    Just A Thought

    Great idea! About how cold can it get outside before you start to worry about this thing's ability to insulate?