I've been reading up about propagation. Most of the books talk about
using cold frames for getting baby plants through the winter before
setting them into the garden.
However, we get very cold winters (down to 20 below) and lots of snow
where I live (right on the border of zone 5 on a hillside that flowers
later than everything in town.) I can build a frame facing south, but
heat isn't an option and when the snow is deep I can't get to where the
frame is going to be without a lot of hassle. So I'm wondering what
kinds of plants would do okay in the cold frame. I'm looking to
propagate some ground cover, cranesbill geraniums, and lots of hardy
Any tips? Is it worth doing?
Cold frames are fantastic things to have because they extend the growing
season to an extent. But:
- They require attention. They need to be opened and closed. Even on very
cold days when there's no snow cover, it can get hot enough inside to hurt
the plants, unless you install an automatic opener. (They don't require
power, by the way).
- When there's heavy snow cover, the plants are basically in a suspended
state. Unless the frames VERY overdesigned (earth & hay bales around the
outside, drums of water inside), it's still going to be the same temp inside
as out. This doesn't mean the frame is useless, since it provides protection
from some of the physical damage winter brings (ground heaving, for
instance). But, don't count on much growth, except at the very beginning and
end of winter when there's less snow cover.
All in all, I'd say you should do it, but hit the library first and do some
research. And, find the automatic openers before you complete your
A coldframe will buy you 1.5 zones, but the plants have to be in the
ground, if they are in pots they will freeze and die. But a coldframe
is mostly used to get an early start in the spring. You know, start
lettuce in march, that kind of stuff.
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