Cold Frames – The Other Structures for Growing Plants

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Greenhouses are not the only garden structures used for growing plants. Cold frames can also alter your climate and create the artificial atmosphere that promotes plant growth. Cold frames — and their heated versions, hotbeds — are so perfect for sprouting your seeds and rooting your cuttings as well as protecting them from cold weather.

Many home gardeners consider a cold frame an essential tool for successful year-round gardening. A well-built cold frame is nearly as useful as a small greenhouse. The obvious differences between cold frame and greenhouse are that cold frame takes up far less space and will cost almost nothing if you build it with scrap lumber.

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

A DIY cold frame can be anything from a simple frame with a cover of plastic sheeting to a more elaborate structure with its own heat source. You may start with a simple small frame. If you are handy with tools, you might consider building the larger cold frame. It will take you a day to put it together — maybe even less time if you have some old windows or a glass door on hand.

In milder climates, cold frames protect plants against frost and help keep temperatures warm enough for proper plant growth through the winter. In cold winter areas, they will give the same results provided the unit has an auxiliary heating system. If so, the structure is commonly known as a hotbed.

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Whatever your climate, a cold frame is especially useful for early planting of summer annuals and seeds, protecting tender plants in winter, forcing cuttings to root faster, starting perennials from seed in summer, and growing many kinds of plants you would not otherwise attempt to grow.

How can a structure consisting of four walls and a transparent roof make all this possible? The answer is simple: that a cold frame acts as a controlled weather capsule in which temperature, humidity, and light are kept within the limits favorable for plant growth. In addition, it protects tender seedlings and cuttings from attacks by pests and birds and from damage by wind or hail.

 

* This is part one of a two-part article. Part two will be published on Tuesday afternoon.

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

Cold Frames

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