How To Build A Cold Frame – Three Methods

How To Build A Cold Frame – Three Different Methods

Summer is winding down and the evenings are getting cooler. Trees are beginning to show color. You loved your summer vegetables. Why not think of extending your growing season with a cold frame. This way you can grow vegetables well into the winter or even all winter.
I’m going to show you how to build a cold frame using three methods that will help you do just that.

Things To Consider Before Building A Cold Frame:

1. You need to find a site that is fairly protected such as against the house or fence.
2. The site should be south facing so that it takes full advantage of the Winter sun.
3. You should check the winter sun patterns so that you will know your site gets sufficient sun.
4. Decide how large a bed you want. This can even be a raised bed that you have already built.
5. If you don’t already have a raised bed in this location dig out the space you have selected an amendment as you would for any growing bed.
6. Now take your cold frame and set it on the site.

Three Cold Frame Methods

Method 1 – The Hoop Method.

This is the easiest method but will not be suitable for some of the colder areas of the country. However, it has been used successfully in areas where the temperatures get down to about 20 to 25° (or you can try to push your luck.)  The video below shows you the general idea, although I have done this a little differently than the method shown.

To Make This Cold Frame You Will Need:

. 1/2 or 3/4 inch PVC pipe cut to 6ft lengths
. You will also need 1 foot pieces of PVC pipe at that is one size larger (2 pieces for each of the 6 ft lengths(Make sure the narrower PVC pipes can fit into the wider one.)
. Large clamps
. 6 mil plastic sheeting (enough to cover the cold frame)

Putting This Cold Frame Together

. Starting at one end of the raised bed insert 1 ft pieces of PVC pipe into the ground on each side of raised bed (inside the bed). Do this every 18 inches – 2 ft until you get to the other end of the raised bed.
. Insert one end of the 6 ft sections of PVC pipe into the 1 ft pieces of PVC you just inserted into the ground. Insert the other end into the short PVC pipe on the other side of the raised bed so that it forms an arch. Do this for each 6ft section of PVC pipe.
. Cover the framework you have just made with the 6mil plastic.
. Anchor the plastic in place with the large clamps.
. Lap the ends of the plastic together and secure with a clamp.

You should now have a completely covered cold frame that you can access by temporarily removing the clamps and pulling back the plastic. You will also want to occasionally leave the ends of the cold frame open so that your plants don’t get too hot.

Method 2 – No Woodworking Cold Frame

Here is a nice cold frame that you can put together using cinder blocks and some windows or shower doors.  This is a very easy method.

You Will Need:
. Old windows
. Cinder blocks

Putting Cold Frame Together:

. Use one or two old windows, which can be obtained cheaply or sometimes for free.
. Lay out the area for your bed. Make it to the size of the windows you have.
. Use cinder blocks to make the perimeter of the bed and to the desired height (1-2 blocks high)
. Place the windows on top of the cinder block bed you have made.
. Amend soil as usual.

Now you can plant your bed. Be sure to prop the window open on warm daytime so the plants don’t get too hot.  Use weights, like bricks, to weigh down the windows so they don’t get dislodged.)

Method 3 – Wood Construction Cold Frame

How to build a cold frame of wood.  Here you will have to do some wood working to build this cold frame.  You will need to have some woodworking skills and a few tools.  Still, it is not a difficult project to do.

You Will Need:

. 1- 2 old windows
. Wood such as cedar that can tolerate sitting in the soil.
. Brackets
. Hinges
. Saw
. Hammer
. Screw Driver

How To Construct Cold Frame:

. Use the size of the windows to determine how large you need to make your bed.
. Make front several inches shorter than the back. Cut both of these pieces to the same length.
. Cut both sides so that they angle in the top to match the front and back of the cold frame.
. Secure the cold frame with L brackets or pieces of 2×2’s
. Secure the windows to the back of the cold frame with hinges.
.You can use styrofoam to line the cold frame in really cold areas, by nailing down pieces of styrofoam cut to fit the side of the cold frame.

Install frame onto the site you have prepared. Fill with amended soil and plant. You will need to prop windows open on warmer days so that plants don’t get too hot.

Have fun extending the growing season in your garden with one of several different types of cold frames. 





2 Replies to “How To Build A Cold Frame – Three Methods”

    1. Hi Holley,
      Hope one of these methods works for you. Even a non-woodworker like me could do them. A thought occurred to me that you could also use styrofoam in the cinder block cold frame as well if you used stakes of some kind to anchor them to the sides.



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