How many of my fellow gardeners plan on cold framing this winter? Anyone, anyone?
If you’re not planning on it, you absolutely should! Cold frames are easy to build structures that protect flowers, fruits, or veggies from harsh winter elements. If harvesting from your garden is important to you this winter, these tips and tricks will help make sure you have a successful harvest!
When building your cold frame, the type of material used to build the frame is important for it’s success. Usually, frames bought at Home Depot don’t provide much shelter from the winter. If you live in a colder area, consider building one from hand out of a combination of straw and polycarbonate. Naturally, you can purchase cold frames on Amazon.
As with any kind of garden; the right location is everything! You’re aiming to protect your plants from winter cold, so pick the warmest spot you have in your yard. Preferably one facing south. Protect the west side of your cold frame with straw bales if you find it necessary.
Whether it be from the fall of autumn leaves, or a hearty dumping of winter snow; make sure to keep the tops of your frames clear. If the tops of the frames are obstructed, the plants won’t receive the amount of light needed to support growth. You may open your frame to find a bunch of dying veggies, and no one wants that!
Always keep an eye on the weather in your area, if it’s supposed to be above 45 degrees in your area, make sure you ventilate your frames. Prop the top off your frame and let the air circulate. If you forget to ventilate, you could risk cooking your plants alive. In warmer temperatures, the hot air has nowhere to escape to!
If sunlight (or heat!) is an issue in your area, it may be a good idea to line the insides of your frames with a reflective material. This will direct the light back towards the plants, keeping them toasty warm while boosting light! If you think your plants may be a little chilly, line the inside of your cold frame with aluminum foil for a quick fix.
Like outdoor gardening, there always comes a time when it is “too late” to start growing a variety of vegetable or fruits. Regardless of which grow zone you are in, you should stop planting in a cold frame by October 1st. It’s difficult to plant much later because the plants won’t receive enough heat or sunlight to reach full-size. You can learn more about cold frame deadlines here.