Cold Frames

Cultivating and growing plants, flowers and vegetables is ever popular but sometimes investing in a greenhouse is not always viable, or often the avid greenhouse gardener may need a little extra space. The Cold Frame can be placed on paving or pea shingle where the stored heat generated by the stone will help with hardening off; you may want to place the frame directly over crops in open soil or, thanks to our clever design, the cold frame can be easily secured to one of our 1.2m (4ft) square Allotment or Standard Raised Beds for instant protection from the seed sowing stage onwards.

If you have grown some tasty crops you can be sure that if not protected the slugs and snails will get to them first, apply copper slug and snail tape around the top of the cold frame to stop them from coming in, if you have any small gaps around the cold frame base sit your plants on a layer of slug gone this irritates the slugs/snails foot and they will look for food elsewhere.

Organic Gardening’s article on making your own cold frame isn’t actually a step-by-step tutorial, but it details all the different materials you can use to construct the sides of your box (cinderblocks or concrete or hay bales, anyone?) and the best ways to insulate your winter crops if you’re gardening in a very harsh climate, including sinking your cold frame into the earth and piling soil, leaves, or wood chips around the outside of your frame to hold in heat.

Four-legged visitors who wander in from outside the garden will be kept out of the cold frames much the same way birds are, but you might need protection later in the year as with birds. Using a variety of slug repellents around the base and along the sides will go a long way towards preventing their occupation of your cold frames. The Gardman Wooden Cold Frame provides a large rigid growing area in which to sow seeds, cultivate crops, extend the growing season or to nurture and tend special specimens. By September, with biennials planted out, the cold frame can become home to autumn-sown hardy annuals which will happily overwinter here.

Some cold frames have lights on both sides, like wings, making it easy to reach all areas of the cold frame. In case you aren’t familiar with them, a cold frame is exactly what it sounds like: a frame of some sort that protects plants from cold weather. Glass is the most transparent and permanent material you can use… unless you live next to children playing ball or position your cold frame under the Whomping Willow (or any aging tree).

Cold frames can be expensive and permanent architectural additions to the garden, or cheap structures assembled from scrap lumber and recycled glass windows. This sounds obvious, but remember you will also need space around the cold frame to work, kneel down and move around it. Lights” that slide open may also need extra space at the rear or sides of your cold frame so think about the things you’ll do as you use your cold frame.

Any vegetables grown in a structure are necessarily limited by the dimensions of the structure, especially in winter; any leaves that touch the glass window of a cold frame or plastic film of a low tunnel will freeze. The concept is simple: the bales are used as an insulated wall and a couple of old window frames make a roof that lets the sun’s rays through, but prevents heat from escaping. If you screw wood frame trellises to the outside of wooden raised beds, you can leave them in place while you use a cold frame over the raised bed.

By placing a small 1 x 4 shelf between the cleats, I can fit another row of plants into the cold frame, increasing its storage capacity without unduly shading the plants below. If your raised beds are 6-8″ tall, the soil may freeze a few inches in from the sides during severely cold weather. The contained climate within a cold frame is definitely another main advantage. If you live in a very cold winter climate, you may be able to go a couple of months without your soil drying out.