Three Ways to Use a Cold Frame

cold frame

If you’ve ever eaten a delicious salad full of fresh greens in the middle of winter or have seen flowers blooming well after frost, you are directly benefiting from a cold frame. So, what exactly is this object? Well, it’s a structure that actually draws upon solar energy and insulation to create a microclimate in your garden. There are so many different advantages that come with employing a cold frame. Check out some of them below:

1. Overwintering Dormant Plants

  • While a cold frame isn’t the same as a greenhouse, it does allow you the opportunity to provide your plants with the right elements for a gentle dormancy. Thanks to this, your plants will be more eager to then resume growing when the spring comes rolling around. Remember, once you placed your plants into the cold frame, you’ll still need to control the weather conditions to make sure that there’s a healthy dormancy. To do this, keep the soil somewhat moist, but not drenched. The plants won’t need a crazy amount of water over the winter. In fact, if they’re too wet, they will rot. You also want to stop your plants from getting too much sunlight, since that will only encourage active growth. We recommend placing a white plastic cover over your cold frame, as that will limit the amount of  UV rays shining directly in.

2. Giving Seedlings An Early Start

  • Cold frames give you the chance to start growing your plants a few weeks early, since it eliminates the transplanting shock that many plants deal with. That’s because cold frames allow them to be better acclimated from the outset. If you are sowing directly into the cold frame, make sure that you set it in place at least two weeks before seeding. This way the soil will be warm for germination. After the seedlings are germinated, ventilate your cold frame, so that the air is properly circulated. Keep in mind, soil located in a cold frame will dry out quicker than soil found outside, which is why you need to constantly moisten your soil. This is especially true for when your plants are acclimating to their new environment.

3.  Extending The Season Past Frost

  • Many gardeners dread the first frost every fall, but thanks to the cold frame, you don’t have to worry about this destroying your harvest. A cold frame extends your growing season by insulating the plants found inside, while keeping the frost far away. Typically, gardeners place a plastic hoop tunnel over their cold frame to help with this, as the hoop has the power to protect the plants underneath from outdoor conditions.

 

Photo Credit:  Thinkstock

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