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Get a Head Start on Gardening with Cold Frames

By Lisa Egan / January 16, 2019

By Tess Pennington

Originally Published at Ready Nutrition

Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a temperate climates where they can create a year-round garden. Sometimes, we have to make do with what we have.

Using a cold frame is a great way to get a head start on starting your garden or used as a way to extend your growing season during those cooler months.

Cold frames are essentially a mini greenhouse where you utilize a transparent top (glass or plastic) to allow sunlight to come into the structure and prevent the heat to escape via convection that would otherwise occur, particularly at night. They create a microclimate that provides warmer air and soil temperature, as well as provides young plantlings with shelter from wind. In cold-winter or wet regions, these characteristics allow plants to be started earlier in the spring, and to survive longer into the fall and winter. The most simplistic way to create a cold frame to add a piece of glass over a box. However, the larger the cold frame is, the more plants you can grow.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Location of the cold frame can maximize plant growth
  • Set the frame on bricks to limit the exposure to soil and moisture
  • Angling the top of your cold frame towards the south will help you collect more sunlight for your plants
  • Cold frames should be at least 12-18 inches deep in order to grow vegetables
  • Warning: be wary of  window frames with lead paint. Lead paint can seep into soil where your plants grow. Tests for lead-based paints are available at hardware stores.

Salvaging windows or plastic sheeting is a great way to make due with supplies you already have on hand. Plastic will not insulate the plants as much as glass will. Further, glass will create a stronger structure. It will especially be good to use glass for areas where large amounts of snow occur.

There are different ways to build a cold frame and some are more permanent structures, and some cold frames can be moved for a temporary location. Therefore, do some research on your part to find which way is best for you.

About the author

Lisa Egan

Lisa Egan has been passionate about nutrition and fitness for over 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a minor in Nutrition. Lisa has managed two medically supervised weight control centers, worked as a personal trainer and wellness educator, and is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Nutrition Coach. She is the owner of Lisa Egan Nutrition Coaching and the website All About Habits. Lisa enjoys helping people improve their health and is dedicated to keeping up with the latest research in nutrition science and behavior change psychology. You can contact Lisa via email at lmegan02@gmail.com.


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