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Use Cold Frames to Grow More Food

Tips to grow more food with cold farms

The basic cold frame is the most dependable, least exploited aid for the 4 season harvest. The winter you can built humble frame 2 by 4 topped with an old shower door. Thsis made more sapce available under lights indoors for tomatoes and other crops that don’t like chilly conditions. Eliminated the hassle and setbacks involved with hardening off seedling and then transplanting them. Best of all seedling got a head start in real sun so they never got stretched out and leggy as they often do when started indoors. What can you sow in a cold frame? In spring you can get a boost with virtually any crop by sowing in frames.

Traditionally gardener have to used cold frames to harden off seeding started indoor but you can also use a cold frame to winter sow onions, cabbage or other hardy crops that are easily lifted and transplanted into rows. A cold frame can be a wood box with a recycled window or shower door for the top or haybale enclosure covered with plastic. You might build one with bricks or concrete blocks and top it with translucent corrugated fiberglass. You frames need not be all alike, though having two of the same size makes it possible to stack them for added height.

How Cold Frames Work?

Cold frames shelter plants from ice, snow and treacherous winter winds, and they heat up the soil whenever the sun shines. The soil inside a frame will warm up much faster than open ground. Because seeds of many hardy vegetables can germinate in the 50 degree fahrenheit range, a three day spell of mild weather often coaxes them to life. Weed seeds will germinate alongside the seeds you plants but you will see fewer weeds if you cover the soil’s surface with a 1 inch deep blanket of potting soil. Add water as needed to keep the soil from drying out.

After seeds have begun to grow inside the frames, the plants are surprisingly cold tolerant. Yet these and other winter sown vegetables will suffer if a frame is allowed to over heat. When in doubt it is always better to vent than to risk frying your plants. If you can’t be around to open and close your frame and a warm sunny day is in the forecast, covering the top of a closed frame with a light blocking blanket for a few days is your safest strategy.

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