In a previous article we discussed the numerous benefits of cold frame gardening and how to extend your growing season by weeks, and in some cases months. Having your own diy greenhouse is a wonderful asset to any home gardener, but cold frames are the next best thing. They are inexpensive, versatile, and easy to build. Here are some design ideas, as well as some links to internet sites that will help get you started.
1. PVC Cold Frames
PVC is lightweight, portable, and very durable. Frames constructed out of PVC piping, and a strong sheet of plastic for the cover, are light enough to be moved from one part of the garden to another. After using for seed starting and hardening off, place the pvc cold frame over tender lettuce plants in the fall and harvest in early winter.
2. This Old House Cold Frame Plans
Here is a plan for a very attractive cold frame using a recycled window for the top. This one has been placed on a foundation of bricks and is more permanent in nature than the lightweight PVC model above.
Here are brief steps to build a cold frame.
- Measure the length of log side of window to get the length of one front and two back piece.
- Cut the pieces to the length.
- Mark and cut the angle.
- Mark and cut the tall and short Battens. Then glue and screw the Battens
- Cut and position the back pattern. After that glue and screw the back Battens.
- Glue the four side together and attach hinges.
- Install the pavers, lid and handle.
- Cut the vent rod and position the frame.
3. The Instructable Plan
Again, this is a Cold frame plan that incorporates the use of recycled windows. You will notice that this cold frame is a bit deeper than most which is great for taller growing plants. As with all plans using old windows, take the time really clean them up, re-caulking if necessary, and paint the box itself with whatever color you like. This will help with durability.
4. The Seed Library Cold Frame Plan
For those of us with little time to spare, here is a cold frame plan that is easy to implement and pretty inexpensive. It uses a product called Suntuf, a poly-carbonate material for the frame itself, but this isn’t really necessary. Any scrap wood will do the trick and save you some money along the way. Once again, take a little time to prep the wood and it will last for years.
5. The Sacgardens Cold Frame Plan
A good cold frame will heat up during the day, almost as much and sometimes more than a greenhouse. This one is simple yet very attractive and uses basement window well covers for the top. The plans call for pressure treated lumber and the frame can be placed on a brick or cement block foundation. Pressure treated is heavy so don’t plan on moving this cold frame around without a little help.
6. A Plan from PPG (Pond Plant Girl)
This is a plan for a very simple 5’ x 5’ cold frame that will cost less than $30. It won’t look as natural as some of the wooden frames discussed above and the plastic covers won’t last as long as the recycled windows, but it will get the job done.
7. The Vegetable Gardener Cold Frame Design
The Vegetable Gardener cold frame focuses on a lightweight top for ease of opening and propping up on warm days. In this case the top is made of a clear 8-mil thick sheet of vinyl stapled to the edge of the lumber framed top. Obviously, the vinyl is very lightweight, but over time it will deteriorate and crack, usually within a couple of years and you will have to replace it. This isn’t a big job…just cut a new piece to the right size and re-staple. As you can see the cold frame itself is very well made and even incorporates a Uni-vent system for automatically raising and lowering the top based on the interior temperature.
Here are brief instructions to build this cold frame:
- Cut SUNTUF panel in half in a way so that you have four panel that are 26″ wide by 48″ tall.
- Make the Frame for the lid.
- Finishing the lid. Using the drill bit make hole in every other valley of each panel’s ribbing along the top and bottom edges.
- Make the frame for cold frame.
- Attache the lid on the frame by using hinges and short screws.
- The cold frame is ready.
8. The Grit Cold Frame Plan
If you really want to build an elaborate cold frame, consider the FarmTek model. This could almost be called a “hoop house” and can be constructed on a pretty large scale. This one is 12 feet long and uses a very heavy plastic to cover the four foot high hoops. You can certainly fit a lot of plants, even the tall ones, in this spacious frame.
9. The DIY Network’s Cold Frame Design
Here is a plan that incorporates a little extra feature…insulation. While the finished cold frame looks like many of the others we discussed here, this one has insulated sides. The insulation is simple to install and will definitely help with heat retention. Be careful however…even young plants don’t tolerate heat very well, so make sure you let some of that insulated heat escape when the outside temperature creeps up near 50 degrees.
10. Cold Frame Plan By SFC.Small Farmcentral
This diy cold frame is made by using old window, scrap wood and hinges with screw. Remember few important things while making this type of cold frame such as keep the back tall than front side and boxes to short as compared to window for rain to run off.
Cold frames are nothing more than miniature greenhouses. If you build a couple right now, you’ll be off to a roaring start next spring and you’ll end the season well after the snow arrives. If you love to garden, get into cold frame gardening. You’ll be glad you did!