This weekend, I built a cold frame. The project has been on my wish list for a while. I’ve had issues with getting seeds started with our couple-times-a-year gully washers. This simple structure will provide me with protection from rain to start perennial and cool-season annuals with the added bonus of a couple degrees of extra warmth at night.
I had in mind what I was trying to construct since I built them as a teenager back in Tennessee based on Eliot Coleman’s designs. A walk around the hardware store, and I was able to piece together my project. I decided on a smaller size (3 × 6 ft) than my usual 4 × 8 ft because that 18 sq ft was the largest pane of plexiglass I could find. I also chose pine as my wood. There’s a cedar lumberyard about an hour away, and for future frames I’ll use that wood. But, I was in a hurry to get it built before the semester started, and it will work well for a few years.
It was a quick project and only took me 3 hours to make. The total cost of supplies was around $160 to cover 18 square feet (~8.90 per square foot), which is cheaper from most of the models on the market. If I could do it over again, I would try to figure out a way to reduce the size of the cross beams across the light that block some of the solar radiation. Soon, I’ll also add strips along the bottom of the frame to help protect the wood from rotting, which is another suggestion from Eliot Coleman’s design. I also want to attach the light to the box and cut a notched piece of wood to open the frame to the desired height during the day.
But, overall I’m pleased with how it turned out, and I look forward to having better success growing plants.