I recently found 8 double paned roughly 32" by 34" windows that a
friend gave me about 10 years ago. I always meant to build a cold
frame, but never got around to it.
We just recently moved to a new house, and I have a wonderful south
facing side of the house with no shade that gets a small heat island
even without being enclosed. It is close enough to the property line
that I can't build a proper greenhouse, but I would be able to put in
something small like a cold frame.
I would like to do something with insulated walls that will let me
grow some greens in the Fall and early Spring. I live in SW Ohio, USA.
(between zone 5 & zone 6) First frost is usually in mid to late
October, and last frost is usually end of April to mid May.
Do any of you have experiences with cold frames that you feel would
save me some headaches? Can you point me to some simple and heavy duty
plans that I might be able to use? I think I'd like to make this my
It's difficult to give explicit directions when one already has
existing parts they want to use but there is plenty of info on line
and I'm sure at your local library.
I wouldn't attempt anything too involved, expensive, or of a permanent
nature, not right away. About forty five years ago I built a
coldframe at my first house... I also was given someones old windows
but I invested a lot of money in lumber and hardware and made it too
large... I only used it one season and without much success... caring
for coldframe plantings requires more attention than one might think.
If I had it to do over again I'd forego the coldframe and go directly
Crockett's Victory Garden (the first edition; I don't know if they
kept them in later ones) had some nice plans for a cold frame. You
might be able to adapt them to your existing supplies. We had one that
lasted for years, through some awful New York City winters.
I did it with shower doors, windows and bales of straw. It worked
okay. The next year I made a greenhouse from a dog pen. The cold frame
was less labor intensive and dirt cheap - the greenhouse more fun. But
I'm glad I did the coldframe.
Interesting, but I'd like to stay away from active heating if I can.
However, I may very well place a dozen or more milk jugs of water in
there to help regulate the temperatures.
In my ideal cold frame setup, I'd have a 200 gallon water reservoir
buried underneath the cold frame. Then on the south side of the
building, about 5 or 6 feet above the cold frame, I'd have a network of
black tubules inside an array facing the sun, and a tiny pump to slowly
move the water through there from the reservoir during the day. That
would build up a lot of heat in the reservoir, which could help slowly
release the heat passively through the only non insulated surface - the
top of the reservoir tank. (located, conveniently, only a few inches
under the bottom of the cold frame)
However, that's probably a bit complex for my first cold frame attempt.
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