It’s been a very mild Winter and Spring, but last week we had snow. Thus is the fickle nature of the changing of the seasons. This can be problematic to the backyard gardener who is trying to get a jump on his/her planting season. My solution – a vintage cold frame.
I came upon this idea on a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. My goal – mimic their vintage cold frame. Cold frames have been utilized for centuries as a way to either get a jump on, or lengthen, the growing season. Think of them as mini-greenhouses.
I wanted to build a low-cost, compact, frame to extend the grow time of my herbs into the shoulder seasons. First stop – my local Habitat for Humanity Restore in search of a vintage window and wood to create the base.
There are numerous websites dedicated to building cold frames, thus I’m not going to go into the step by step instructions. The basic idea is to build a box that is higher on the back side. Thus allowing the window (roof) sit on a slant. As you can see, I really pulled together scrap wood to create my box. But once painted out in white paint, the mismatch of pieces disappears.
Position your cold frame facing south. Enrich the soil inside your cold frame for better results. On days where the temperature rises, be sure to either remove or adjust the window for air-flow. On nights when the temperature drops below freezing, cover with blanket.
I have been using my cold frame for several weeks now. I will be trying different herbs to see what adapts well, and what does not. So far, my rosemary loves it, my chives tolerate it, and my heat loving basil seems to be struggling.
As different herb plants become available in my area, I will continue to fill my box. This growing season will be an experimental one. My goal is to have fresh herbs for cooking from March thru December each year, thus doubling the time in which I’m fortunate enough to have fresh herbs outside my back door. Cold frames . . . a wonderful vintage idea for our contemporary times.